The Academic Essay
The academic essay differs from fictional or personal writing in that it has a formal structure. The entire message for the writing is not limited to individual sentences or paragraphs, but rather relies on the overall structure and organization of the essay, the content of which is individual and reflects the writer's argument and research.
In almost all instances, the academic essay must contain an argument or claim. The essay must address an issue or raise a question, presented through appropriate data or information (evidence) that exemplifies, analyzes, and comments on that evidence in a logical manner. The essay will make reference to sources, often also pointing out any illogical data found, such as inconsistencies or omissions in a source argument. In addition to being graded on their writing ability, students are assessed on their ability to select the appropriate and relevant evidence to justify their arguments or claims.
The amount of evidence gathered for an essay isn't as important as the quality of the information cited. A lengthy bibliography and reference notes aren't enough. The evidence used must be relevant to the thesis.
Essay arguments may vary in how they are written and how the argument is expressed, but a good essay should show the development of a thesis, supported by evidence. It should also be written in a way that effectively anticipates and overcomes objections or counterarguments.