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Essay Writing and Referencing Information
Writing an Anthropology Essay
In anthropology you are expected to read widely and critically. Much of anthropology consists of argument about how social facts are to be interpreted. Our understanding often advances through a variety of contrary viewpoints and emphases. As in related disciplines such as sociology, political science and philosophy, there is an internal tension generated by the opposition of arguments that gives anthropology much of its vitality and interest. Anthropology is not so much a uni?ed body of knowledge as it is a dialectical, on-going production.
Few issues in anthropology have been resolved. You wonâ€™t ?nd many generally accepted â€˜answersâ€™, and there are no single authorities who can tell you all you need to know. This means that we expect your essays to demonstrate not just factual knowledge but also some ability to present and assess arguments and counter- arguments about particular problems.
The criteria by which we assess are:
1. Relevance: The content of your essay should be relevant to the question or problem youâ€™ve selected. Donâ€™t include material not directly related to it.
2. Well-informed: Your essay should be well-informed. Read as widely as possible. As a rule of thumb, an essay should cite at least ?ve or six items.
3. Your own thinking and your own words: Familiarity with the literature is essential but not suf?cient. Your essay must be based on your own thinking. Only a minor part should be direct quotations or material that is merely a modi?ed or condensed version of another authorâ€™s work. Extensive quotation or paraphrase isnâ€™t acceptable, as it doesnâ€™t evidence your thinking about your reading.
4. We donâ€™t expect you to come up with original insights at this stage of your studies. But we do expect a serious effort to evaluate how the readings bear on the problem. One way to proceed is by comparing and contrasting the work of different writers. Consider the implications of the arguments and data used by one author for another works you are also referring to in your essay.
Think for yourself and say what you think. By this we donâ€™t mean to encourage rash, unconsidered statements. Rather, we hope you will be stimulated by your reading and that you will make the effort to think through the issues raised.
5. Organisation: Your essay should be constructed in a way that shows the logical steps in your argument, with data from various sources being brought in as appropriate. Remember that paragraphs are the organisational â€˜building blocksâ€™ of an essay and that each paragraph should have a main idea or theme.
Good organisation can only be achieved by careful planning and frequent re-reading and revision of your writing as you proceed. Authors who havenâ€™t taken the trouble to review and revise their essays before submitting seldom succeed.
? Begin with an introduction that foreshadows your argument.
? Develop your discussion progressively and coherently. Ensure that sentences and paragraphs follow logically from one another.
? Your conclusion should draw together the threads of your argument and present a ?nal answer to or assessment of the problem.
? If there seems to be disagreement in the literature about the meaning of certain terms, mention this and state how you intend to use the term(s). Choose an appropriate place to de?ne terms â€“usually where the particular term is ?rst mentioned. Dictionary de?nitions are often inadequate when it comes to specialist concepts. Use a de?nition from the literature by preference.
6. A balance between abstraction and concreteness: Avoid the extremes of getting bogged down in masses of factual detail or of ?oating off into realms of pure abstraction. The essential point of writing an essay is to grapple with the relation between abstractions/theories and facts â€” to think about how best to understand the facts. A descriptive account simply of what the people of this or that society do may quality as ethnography, but it doesnâ€™t rise to the level of anthropology. Conversely, a statement of opinions, theories or abstractions unsupported by reasoning and factual evidence similarly fails.
7. Expression: Take special care to express your ideas as clearly and concisely as possible. Write complete sentences and keep them as short and succinct as possible. We are interested in what you know and think, and will not penalise occasional errors in expression.
8. The best way to ?nd out whether your essay is well-written is to have someone read it. An alternative is to read it aloud to yourself. This can help you to recognise the syntactically awkward bits, and it may help you to see the mis-spellings and other errors.
The Vice-Chancellor has asked that writing skills be taken into account in the overall assessment of work, and particularly that â€˜Markers should insist that ideas and facts should be expressed accurately and adequately, and should penalise the sort of writing which calls on them to provide a charitable interpretation of notions which have been vaguely or misleadingly expressedâ€™.
9. Referencing: The following â€œin-textâ€ or Harvard style of referencing is recommended for all Anthropology essays:
SETTING OUT THE ESSAY:
The presentation of your essay is an important part of the writing exercise. Every aspect of spelling, punctuation, grammar and formatting would be checked for correctness and the essay as a physical production would be as neat as possible.
Paper: Use standard A4 paper.
Margins: All margins should be at least an inch (or 2.5cm) wide. The left margin is often wider, to allow space for binding and/or markerâ€™s comments.
Line spacing: Word-processed and typed essays should have double-spaced lines, for clarity and to provide space for markerâ€™s comments. If you are using a small type face, 1.5-line spacing is OK.
Justi?cation: Left justi?cation only is usually preferable too full justi?cation (i.e. left and right but not centered), because the latter can introduce large spaces between words that interfere with readability.
Page numbers: should be on all pages but the ?rst, where the number is optional
Write an essay on one of the following topics:
Word limit: 1500 words MAXIMUM
A recent article published in the journal Nature argues that sugar is as addictive as drugs and just as much of a public health problem. Do you think sugar should be considered a drug? What evidence can you provide to support your position based on various models of addiction?
THE BELOW READINGS ARE JUST SUGGESTIONS FOR WHERE TO START WITH YOUR ESSAY RESEARCH ? HOWEVER, INDEPENDENT RESEARCH IS EXPECTED.
Lustig, R.H., L.A. Schmidt and C.D. Brindis, 2012. ?Public Health: The Toxic Truth About Sugar.? Nature 482: 27-29. Available online at http:// www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7383/full/482027a.html.
Eiser, R (1997) ?Addiction as a dynamic process?, Addiction Research, 5(5): 361-366.
Krivanek, J. (2000) Drug Misuse, Psychological Dependence and Addiction (Chapter 6). In Understanding Drug Use: Key Issues. Sydney: WEF Associates.
Levine, H.G. (1978) ?The Discovery of Addiction: Changing Conceptions of Habitual Drunkenness in America?, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 15: 493-506. (available online at http://www.soc.qc.edu/Staff/levine/doa.htm)
Peele, S. (1999) ?Why Addiction is Not a Disease?. In The Diseasing of America. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, pp. 1-30.
Peele, S & R.J. Degrandpre (1998) ?Cocaine and the Concept of Addiction: Environmental Factors in Drug Compulsions?, Addiction Research, 6(3): 235-264.
Reinarman, C. (2005) ?Addiction as Accomplishment: The Discursive Construction of Disease?, Addiction Research & Theory, 13(4): 307-320.
Robson, P. (1994) ?Why use Drugs?? In Forbidden Drugs: Understanding Drugs and Why People Take Them. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-18.
Room, R. (2003) ?The Cultural Framing of Addiction?, Janus Head, 6(2): 221-234. (available online at http://www.janushead.org/6-2/Room.pdf)
Valverde, Mariana (1998) ?Introduction?. In Diseases of the Will: Alcohol and the Dilemmas of Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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