Sample essay 2
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Discuss the extent to which online users alter their identity
(Word limit: 2000 words)
Interpreting the assignment question:
Topic: online users alter their identity
Focus: the extent to which
This is quite a difficult question because it is asking you to examine how much (the extent to which) people alter their identity online, rather than highlighting the fact that people can change their identity – a potential trap for first-time essay writers.
Certainly, it is good at the beginning of the essay, whether in the introduction or the body, to acknowledge that people do alter their identity. However, to actually answer this question, you need to go beyond acknowledging the fact that people do change their identity, and discuss or debate the extent to which this happens and why.
It may be that identity alteration occurs in different contexts. For instance, it may be that different groups are more likely to alter their identity than other groups, who do not alter their identity online. Alternatively, some groups may alter their identity to a greater degree than other groups. Answering this essay question requires a thorough analysis and examination of the different variables or factors influencing people's identity construction online.
The following keywords and phrases were useful in searching for information for this assignment: identity, social identity, alter ego, persona, internet, online, chatrooms, IRC, multi-user dungeons, MUDs, computer-mediated communication.
In writing this essay, notes were constructed based on the ideas in books, book chapters, and journal articles surrounding the topic. These notes were then grouped together according to similar ideas and points of view to create topic units. From there, it became possible to identify a position or argument on which to base the essay.
The introductory paragraph was then written, with a thesis statement crafted which functioned to summarise the ideas in the essay. At this time, a concluding paragraph was also roughly put together. Then the paragraphs forming the body of the essay were polished up from their rough shape and were checked to ensure that they were in line with the thesis statement. Topic sentences were crafted for paragraphs in the body, along with summary sentences rounding off the paragraphs. Finally, the concluding paragraph was elaborated on from its original form, ensuring that it adequately summarised the whole essay, but also managed to move the essay forward to the future. In total, the essay (excluding the reference list) came to 1895 words, which fits easily within a 2000 word limit.
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Last updated on 25 October, 2012
Deciding on the Number of Research Paper Sources
Once you have chosen a topic, your next step is finding research paper sources. Finding suitable sources requires you to evaluate sources and spend a significant amount of time researching and reading for information. However, before you start the actual research process, you need to have an idea of the minimum number of sources needed to write an effective paper.
Determining the number of research paper sources
The first place to look when determining the number of research paper sources you need is the assignment instructions. Much of the time, instructors specify a minimum number of sources you must use for the required page length.
When the number of research paper sources is not specified in assignment instructions, there is no official or set number of sources to use. However, there are several rules of thumb you can use to guide the decision-making process.
For a 10-15 page paper, five to eight sources is a good range to select. When selecting research paper sources, you want to have enough to present supporting evidence to back up your argument, but not too many that your own thoughts and ideas are overtaken by them.
- If your paper is assigned a particular word count, you can determine the number of research paper sources by dividing the first two numbers of the word count by two. For example, if your paper is required to be 2000 words in length, you would divide 20 (the first two numbers) by two to end up with 10 minimum sources.
Finding a specific number of research paper sources
Once you have determined the number of research paper topics to use, you can start searching for them. Keep in mind that you are likely to look at many, many more sources than the actual number you use. If you need 10 sources, for example, you are probably going to read through 20-25 sources before you find 10 that credible and scholarly. As you sift through and read sources, you can minimize the time you spend reading through each by reading with purpose, scanning and paying attention to subheadings.
Ultimately, you want sources that support your thesis statement, and ones that you intend to actually use in the paper. If you do not intend to use direct or indirect quotations from a source, do not count it in your total number of sources.
However many research paper sources you are required to use or decide to use on your own, make sure you evaluate sources, and develop good note-taking strategies to save yourself time and frustration when it is time to start an outline or write your rough draft.