Common Errors in Writing an Essay

Common Errors in Writing an Essay

  • Submitted By: diliankata
  • Date Submitted: 12/21/2010 11:07 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1760
  • Page: 8
  • Views: 818

The following is a description of some typical problems that students encounter in writing college papers — particularly philosophy papers. Please read this carefully and make every effort to avoid these pitfalls.

One of the major errors that students commit is that they offer up a pastiche of their “opinions” on a given topic, but they never follow-through to justify those opinions. The first thing that one must realize is that your audience (the smart reader) is not in the least bit interested in your “opinion” or anyone's opinion for that matter. This is a shock to some students who believe that what we've been doing in class is just trading opinions on various topics. The confusion lies in the fact that some students are only attending to the first part of a two-part process — they are forgetting or not sufficiently following the second part of the process. The smart reader is not interested in your opinion. The smart reader is interested in the argument that you can give which explains why you hold that opinion. Giving an argument that supports and defends your opinion is the second-part of the two-part process that we encounter in our readings and class discussions. Generally speaking, you should treat all opinion-statements as logical conclusions , and the art of good reading and writing is to dig back to the premises, the assumptions, and the evidence that led a person to draw that conclusion. Just as in math classes, wherein providing only your conclusions is unacceptable, you must “show your work” in essay-writing too.

A metaphor may be helpful for grasping this common confusion. If we think of the relationship between a flowering plant and its hidden root system, we may see the relevant relation. Our opinions and our beliefs are like the flowering plants, and the reasons for holding those opinions are like the hidden but all-important root-systems. Some students confusedly think that writing a humanities paper is like displaying their...

Similar Essays