Apt formal formula

September 10, 2015

While I share Karen Harris’ concerns abut the formulaic pattern of the essay and its one-size-fits-all framework, I strongly disagree with the implication that the essay structure is “potentially anti-intellectual” or of no use for critical thinking (“The 1,000-word bore”, Opinion, 3 September).

In fact, despite an essay’s formulaic pattern, it is still possible for students to discuss different points of view for the obvious reason that any good essay is based on research, which is about questioning and probing various perspectives. The “essay” is a literary genre with its own conventions and mastering formal writing is useful in many professional contexts. Also, the ability to use formal language must coexist with other contemporary styles of writing.

So let us consider different methods of assessment that make use of both textual and multimedia material, including electronic essays and e-dissertations, but let us also remember that in today’s complex media ecology there might still be something to learn from the traditional practice of good essay writing.

Anna Notaro
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee
@notanna1

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Related articles

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

man with frozen beard, Lake Louise, Canada

Australia also makes gains in list of most attractive English-speaking nations as US slips