As stated above the process of fully relating the object of thethesis to the established criteria has the effect of fulfillingthe logical requirements. It is THAT task which ultimatelypersuades, not the conclusion itself. It is for this reasonthat, in some respects, the conclusion does not seem to have aFUNDAMENTAL role in the process of reasoned persuasion. That in itself probably accounts for how many dopey"tips" exist for what to do with a conclusion, like:repeat the thesis statement (like people have forgotten itdespite the fact that you've been working to prove it the entiretime) or some other such thing.
The Role of Description
Relating "the object of investigation" or the"object of the thesis" back to the established criteriais necessarily going to involve description. Description isfrequently an unclear and thorny issue for writers of theacademic essayespecially in terms of scope (how much isenough?). The purpose of description, however, clarifiesthe issue of scope. The purpose of description to is tomake clear, or establish WHAT in the object of investigation (thefilm, the scene, the shot) relates to the criteria beingused. It therefore becomes important for the writer to usedescription in such a manner as to establish the basis of therelationship between the object and the criteria. Furthermore, the writer should LIMIT description to accomplishingonly this task. Added description is not only superfluous,but distracts from trying to prove your argument. As aresult, another important norm for the body of the academicessay is:
In the discussion of types of argument, I made the point that thewriter will have to establish criteria that can be used to provetheir argument. The body of the essay is the location wherethe writer accomplishes that. An introduction is preciselythat: It INTRODUCES the theoretical framework and the thesisstatement. It does not DESCRIBE or DISCUSS these twothings. This is a fairly common mistake that beginningessay writers make. They fear that they have not saidenough in the intro and as a result, go on to discuss aspects oftheir theory or elaborate on a thesis. The problem withdoing so is that it screws up your organization. What comes nextis no longer clear to the reader.
If you keep it clear to yourself that the purpose of theintroduction to your essay is to only INTRODUCE your theoreticalframework, and your thesis statement, then the function of thebody of your essay will also become evident to the reader. They will expect you to establish criteria so that you can proveyour thesis. As a result, another important norm of theacademic essay is:
The first paragraph of your personal statement, one or two sentences, should make clear the purpose of your writing: to present an interpretive summary of your background, academic interests, and future goals as justification for your admission to a program of graduate study.
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The academic essay is merely a specific writing genreasis the love letter, newspaper editorial, or pop-fiction. Asa genre, it functions within a set of norms, rules, andconventions. The purpose of this discussion is to makeclear to you what those rules and norms are, and how to use themto express your argument clearly.
The purpose of the academic essay is to persuade by reasoneddiscourse. Scholars use the essay amongst themselves toadvance ideas. Its value as an instructional tool is toassist students in developing their critical thinkingskills. As you recall, critical thinking is defined as: theability to read theory accurately, appropriate it meaningfully,apply it independently, generate results based on thatapplication, analyze the results, and form a clear argument basedon those results that can be defended with a specific line ofreasoning.
Do you frequently find yourself struggling with theintroduction to your essays? Do you not know how to begin theessay? Do you find yourself searching for a generalizingstatement that will get things going, and trying to find adelicate balance between BS'ing and saying somethingmeaningful? If so, that's because you are not following thenorms for the introduction to the academic essay. Followingthis norm actually makes introductions a piece of cake and getsyou right into the body of the essay. Here is the norm:
Following this norm allows you to cut to the chase. Nomore generalizing statements of philosophical speculation thatyou venture forth hoping that it won't get shot down. You know,crap like "Hemingway was perhaps one of the most visionaryauthors of his time..." or "The Western is perhaps themost uniquely American of all the genres..." Rather,if the purpose of the essay is to demonstrate that you haveappropriated a theory and applied it independently to produceresults, then the function of the introduction becomes morefocused: to introduce the theoryor theoreticalframeworkthat you have decided to use. Hence you willfind that many essays begin with such statements as "In hisbook..." Or, "In her essay..."
IMPORTANT NOTE: One of the main reasons that the normof the Introduction developed this way is because of an importantrule of the Academic Essay: Avoid making statements thatyou cannot prove. The problem with thegeneralizing/philosophical/BS'ing statements like "Hemingway..."and "The Western..." is that they cannot be proventhrough reasoned discourse. Moreover, to even try and do sowould require voluminous amounts of discourse for something thatis not even your thesis: what you actually ARE setting out toprove. As a result, the genre of the Academic Essay hasevolved into the above norm. It still meets anintroduction's purpose of orienting the reader, it just does soin a very specific manner.