The “research question” is the topic of your assignment. Most essay topics are phrased as a question. The aim of your essay is to answer that question. It is called a research question because it is the topic you research. Understanding your research question is essential. You can’t get good marks unless you address the question.
The aim in determining how much research effort will be required is to ensure you have selected an area where you can focus on understanding and using research material, not spending most of your time finding it. Your essays are not marked for effort, but for what they contain.
You want your research efforts to be as productive as possible, so design research questions for which there is plenty of easy-to-find material.
There are two planning stages in every essay:
Number of Points to Make in Essay = (Essay Length – 500) ÷ 250.
2,000 word essay
30,000 word dissertation
|(2,000 – 500) = 1,500||(30,000 – 500) = 29,500|
|1,500 ÷ 250 = 6 points||29,500 ÷ 250 = 118 points|
**NB** It doesn’t matter if your final work departs from this structure. Some points will require only 100 words, while other might need 500. The aim is simply to provide enough structure to plan your argument.
Before you commence writing, you must plan the structure of your work. For the purposes of planning, assume each point will require 250 words.
Why ? This demonstrates you thought about your work before you started writing. Your work needs to form a coherent argument.
An argument is an evidence-based defence of a particular position on a specific topic. Arguments set out to prove “claims”. A “claim” is a conclusion you have about the topic. An academic argument is what your reasoning has led you to believe about the topic.
The quality of your argument will be assessed in terms of the sources and evidence you cite, the points you make, the order you in which you make them, and the degree to which they support your conclusion.