Gather ideas

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Gathering information through interview, questionnaire, survey or laboratory experiments is called primary research. It involves collection of data which does not exist yet. You should have a good idea of how your essay will develop before you begin so that you can look for the appropriate amount or scope of information.

To gather information by reading, secondary research, you need to read selectively either from a recommended bibliography or read around the topic trying to ascertain which information could be most useful to your essay.

It is an academic convention to acknowledge your sources and to distinguish where source information ends and your own original thinking begins. It is the academic way of showing that you are not plagiarising, i.e. stealing somebody else’s ideas, which is considered cheating. This particular convention is one of they key features that distinguishes an academic essay from other sorts of essays, for example, opinion pieces in newspapers.

As you research and read, keep careful notes about where your material comes from. You will need to know the author’s full name, the book or article title, the publisher, date and place of publication and any website details.

Organize your ideas

A good essay is well-organized. It has a coherent structure that helps the reader make sense of the content. after gathering all the ideas, decide what to include and what order and how to let the reader know you are moving from one point to another.

You will need to identify your main ideas and make sure you can support each one sufficiently with details.

Drawing an outline can give you a good visual picture of the final essay. Work out an outline that allows you to develop and support your thesis. This helps you to remember when you will use which points of the information you have gathered. This is useful in long academic essays to prevent you from digressing because of an interesting sub point, which might lead to a rambling essay.



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