College essay writing, one of the most popular forms of academic writing, requires a writer to present his or her thoughts on a particular topic using multiple examples and points. Essay writing is different from research paper writing because a report should present the author's own, original ideas on a certain topic. Reports will frequently incorporate research; however, they are focused on advancing the writer's opinions or interpretations rather than presenting the opinions of other scholars.
There are many different types of projects, but most fall under two categories: personal essays and analytic essays. Personal essays report on an individual's experience or experiences, and use the first-person voice ("I" and "me"). Analytic essays discourage the use of the first-person voice, and present a particular claim about a certain topic or idea. A claim is an argument—a particular stance on a subject. There are also articles that blend these two types. An example of this sort of essay hybrid is a persuasive essay, in which the writer presents a claim and frequently uses both academic research and his or her own experience to convince the reader of the validity of the writer's position. Regardless of the type of essay, however, there are some general guidelines that should be followed when writing reports of any kind.
An report should present the writer's original ideas. This is easily done in a personal essay, in which the writer is called on to describe an individual experience. However, it applies equally to an analytic article. Though an analytic essay often requires the writer to incorporate the ideas of others, it should still present the writer's own take on that topic or those ideas. It should not merely summarize or reiterate what others have said about the topic or what has been discussed in class, but should make unique points based on the writer's thoughtful consideration. This does not mean that the report must present an idea that has never been considered before; it simply means that it must offer the writer's own, individual thoughts on that idea.
Effective essay writing requires that a writer pick one topic and stick to it for the duration. Analytic and personal essays do this in different ways. When writing articles that present an analysis, the writer must always present a thesis statement. A thesis is a sentence or group of sentences that clearly defines what the article is about and how the writer will discuss it. Every analytic report should have a recognizable thesis in the first 1/4. The report should then stick to this thesis idea and address it from several different angles.
Personal essays do not need a thesis because they are recounting an experience rather than advancing a point or argument; however, they also should stick to a main idea and develop that main idea. A personal essay about a trip to the Rocky Mountains should focus on telling the story of that trip and not go off on tangents about the writer's interest in puppets.
Finally, when writing reports, learners should follow the specific instructions of the assignment and their instructor. There are as many types of report assignments as there are types of reports, and all have specific requirements.
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