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Short Essay Writing: Valuable Tips from Experts

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To activate students` independent work and develop public speaking skills, many teachers resort to such a form of knowledge control as a short essay. The volume of the short essay is significantly inferior to coursework. The problems raised, the methods of their analysis, the depth and breadth of conclusions also differ significantly. As a rule, coursework is interdisciplinary in nature; it controls the student`s research preparation for a certain period of time (a year or a semester). A short essay is usually tied to a specific subject being studied and includes an analysis of a limited number of concepts considered in the course of training.

In this review, we will consider the peculiarities of writing a short essay in detail. If you find this information useful, study the below material carefully.

How to Find the Original Theme for a Short Essay?

An important component that ensures the effectiveness of a short essay is a clear formulation of its topic, which should reflect the movement from the achievements of science, from the usual to the new, contain the moment of collision of the old with the new.

The topic is a methodological characteristic of the study. It reflects the problem in its characteristics, outlines the boundaries of the study, specifying the main idea, and creating the preconditions for the success of the work as a whole. A topic is a part of a scientific problem that covers one or more research questions. The topic is formed on the basis of general acquaintance with the problem within which the analysis will be conducted.

Topic Selection Criteria

The topic for a short essay should be chosen, taking into account the conditions below:

  • your short essay should be relevant, i.e., aimed at solving specific problems that are important in a certain area of ​​science. Determining the relevance of the topic is based on the study of special periodicals and production, participation in exhibitions, conferences, and so on;
  • level of interest in the problem. One of the criteria for the prospects of the chosen direction is the use of the simplest scientometric research. The term ‘scientometrics’ means science that deals with the quantitative description of science itself. Since science is, first of all, the receipt of new information, scientometric research is devoted to the study of problems of accumulation and transmission of information. Research can be performed on the basis of an analysis of scientific and technical literature related to a particular problem;
  • preliminary theoretical calculations. Before starting the analysis, it is necessary to study the theoretical foundations of a particular problem and make preliminary theoretical calculations (if possible). This allows you to identify those elements of the problem that are still underdeveloped and outline a plan for further research;
  • material base. After the topic is initially formulated, the material base necessary for the performance of the short essay is specified;
  • deadlines. Real deadlines must be set. Procrastination of the study sometimes leads to the results becoming irrelevant.

Thus, at the stage of substantiation of the short essay topic, all the criteria of its selection are studied, after which a decision is made on the expediency of its development.

Free Short Essay Topics

In order to help you with your search for a short essay topic, we decided to provide you with a number of relevant topics. You can choose one in the following list:

  1. Where is the limit of human freedom?
  2. How is freedom different from arbitrariness?
  3. Is absolute justice possible?
  4. Is equality possible in human society?
  5. Should a person be honest, frank in any situation?
  6. What is the value of decency?
  7. Is decency important on the road to success?
  8. Is it always worth being tolerant?
  9. When is tolerance worse than betrayal?
  10. What is the value of politeness?
  11. How is politeness different from etiquette?
  12. Is nobility a sign of etiquette?
  13. What is the value of nobility?
  14. Is it possible to be a humanist without being a benefactor?
  15. What is patriotism?
  16. Can a patriot be someone who does not respect other peoples?
  17. How can responsibility help you succeed in life?
  18. What is the danger of irresponsibility?
  19. How can courage help you succeed in life?
  20. Why is indifference considered the worst position in a person’s life?
  21. How best to succeed – alone or in a team?
  22. Can a person live outside a friendly circle?
  23. What is terrible loneliness?
  24. Why does a person want to be alone from time to time?
  25. What does a person need for self-realization?
  26. Why does a self-realized person feel harmony?
  27. How does focus help you succeed in life?
  28. How to achieve harmony in life?
  29. Is harmony possible in human life?
  30. What destroys harmony in interpersonal communication?
  31. What helps a person to overcome life’s problems?
  32. What is the danger of excessive romance?
  33. Is there a place for romance in modern society?
  34. Who is better to be in the modern world – a romantic or a rationalist?
  35. Does romanticism contribute to success in life?
  36. What are the components of human spirituality?
  37. What destroys spirituality in the modern world?
  38. Is it always worth trusting people?
  39. How can openness help you succeed?
  40. Why do people value loyalty?
  41. Is it possible to forgive betrayal?
  42. Can material values ​​replace spiritual ones?
  43. Is money always evil?

Key Structural Elements

A short essay, like any other type of essay, should have three main components:

  • in the introduction, it is necessary to define the topic precisely, highlight the main problems that need to be covered, and decide how these problems will be analyzed;
  • in the main part, it is advisable to build a system of argumentation on the basis of a deep study of the topic and evidence supporting the statements made. You should put forward new ideas one by one, in a logical sequence that will enable the reader to follow the direction of your reasoning. Since the short essay is considered a small form, it is not customary to divide the main part into separate chapters. At the same time, for the convenience of presentation and clarity of the logic of argumentation, the main content is subdivided into paragraphs or sections, which may have independent subheadings;
  • the conclusion summarizes the ideas put forward and highlights the key points of the main part of the work. As a rule, the conclusion is drawn up in accordance with the title of the short essay. Also, here you can indicate the directions for further research and study of this topic.

Due to the small volume of all work, applications are not provided. Graphs and tables should be specified in the course of the presentation of the main text. When checking the work, you must first of all, pay attention to whether the ideas are arranged in a logical order and whether there are too many of them for such a small volume. Usually, each paragraph of the main text should contain no more (but no less!) than one idea. In addition, it should be checked whether the ideas under consideration are united by a common thought, similar argumentation, and the overall task of the short essay.

Requirements for Factual Data and Other Sources

When writing a short essay, it is extremely important how empirical data and other sources (especially reading quality) are used. All evidence is time and places specific, so make sure it is time and place appropriate for your research before using it. If you are using, for example, a UK Social Mobility Data Sheet, you should include when this study was conducted, etc. In this case, specifying the time and place data appropriately is one way that can prevent over-generalization, which could lead to the assumption that all countries are in some important respects the same (if you think so, then this should be proven, not an unfounded statement).

You can always avoid over-generalization if you remember that the data you use in the short essay is illustrative material and not a final act, i.e., they support your arguments and reasoning and show that you know how to use the data appropriately.

Do not also forget that data concerning controversial issues are always questioned. You are not expected to give a definite or definitive answer (no one will ever agree that this is the only correct answer!). But what you can do is understand the essence of the factual material related to this question (What are the relevant indicators? What conclusion can be reached from the available data and indicators regarding cause and effect? etc. ​), and demonstrate this in your short essay.

When writing a short essay, sometimes difficulties arise due to a lack of knowledge of how to properly use the literature available on a given topic. You can avoid these challenges by remembering some important rules:

  • when quoting (using someone else’s words), always put the text in quotation marks and give an accurate reference to the source (including the page number). If you don’t, i.e., if you pass off other people’s thoughts as your own, then it will be considered plagiarism (one of the forms of deception); even in the case when you convey the text in your own words (give a brief summary or paraphrase it), do not forget to give a reference to the source;
  • when you are preparing a summary/report on the views of a particular author or authors, a reference to the source is also necessary. For example: “According to Sen …”;
  • do not refer to works you have not read yourself. The only exception to this rule will be if you are referring to an author citing another author.

Recommendations of the Scientific Community for the Preparation and Writing a Short Essay

According to experts, a short essay must be executed, taking into account a number of requirements. The author of a short essay needs to check the completed paper against the following criteria:

  • knowledge of factual material within the framework of the problem under discussion (its place and role in the context of modern scientific knowledge), more broadly – the training programs for a specialist/bachelor’s/master’s degree; the ability to build and prove your own position based on the knowledge you have acquired. It should be remembered, however, that there are no absolutely ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers to questions. There are more or less reasoned points of view;
  • high-quality preparation of materials necessary for a short essay (abstracts of scientific literature, lectures, recordings of discussions and personal reflections, experience gained), their synthesis, and presentation. The best preliminary work in preparing a short essay is the synopsis of an article, monograph, etc.;
  • optimally chosen strategy for studying scientific sources. It is recommended that you first read two or three topical, recently published encyclopedic / dictionary articles (as a starting point), a scientific article, a monograph by leading scientists (in each topic there are big names that cannot be ignored) giving a clear idea of interpretations of the problem under study (theory and empirical evidence). Strategic reading will allow you to see key landmarks on the topic (what are the discussions between researchers and approaches in the study), which will serve as a kind of basis for the direction and development of further reading. It is best to select specialized literature for each section. Not all sources deserve to be used, it is necessary to work out the most significant, proven, and authoritative. Depending on the problem under discussion, the number of scientific sources ranges from 15 to 30;
  • preliminary preparation of a detailed plan for each part of the short essay – introduction, argumentation, conclusion;
  • a thoughtful approach to solving the problem and the way to defend it;
  • correct use of basic terms and concepts;
  • clear justification and defense of your position. When forming your own point of view on a particular problem, the focus is on your ability to critically and independently assess the range of data and points of view/reasoning of others, the aptitude to understand, evaluate and establish a connection between the key points of any problems and questions;
  • compliance with scientific ethics. All references in the short essay are carefully checked and supplied with ‘addresses.’ It is unacceptable to include in your work excerpts from the works of other authors without indicating this, to retell someone else’s work close to the text without referring to it, to use other people’s ideas without indicating the original source. All cases of plagiarism must be excluded.

Are you ready to start writing a short essay? You will definitely succeed if you follow our recommendations. If difficulties arise in the process of work, do not be discouraged, but contact our experts who are ready to offer you high-quality assistance at any time.

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