Department of Political Science, MIT.
17.903 / Community Service: Experience and Reflection
Tobie Weiner; Michal Ben-Josef
You are asked to write three short papers in which you are expected to discuss the readings and present your opinion on the issues they raise. While you are writing, consider the following guidelines:[*]
Your essay should display familiarity with the readings and, more importantly, your opinion on the subject. Consider that both you and the reader have read the same articles; therefore, avoid a lengthy repetition of the articles’ content. A brief summary of the main argument(s), restated in your own words, will suffice. Focus on your own critical evaluation of the argument(s). It is recommended to include relevant examples from your own personal knowledge and experience.
Even short essays have regular, predictable patterns of organization. Make sure you present your ideas in a structured format.
Open your essay with an introductory paragraph, which clearly states the subject of your essay, your opinion on the subject, and how you intend to establish the validity of this opinion.
Do not forget to finish with a concluding paragraph, which restates your main ideas and opinion. Emphasize what both you and the reader might have learned from your discussion.
Even though content is more important than appearance, take a moment to reread your essay (reading it out-loud usually helps) and make sure it flows, and that there are no apparent (spelling and/or grammar) mistakes.
Whenever you refer to an idea or data that is not originally yours, you should acknowledge it by stating the source you took it from (e.g., books, articles, websites etc.). Not doing so is considered plagiarism, and is unethical.
[*] The guidelines presented here are taken, in part, from John M, Swales and Christian B. Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994).