The Parts of an Academic Essay
The clichéd explanation of how to write an academic essay is to “tell me what you're going to tell me, tell it, then tell me what you told me.”
In almost all instances, American academic essays are “thesis-driven,” which means that the writer explains the main point of the essay — the thesis statement — in the beginning of the essay. As covered in Chapter 11, a thesis statement is a sentence or two that provides a summary of the position you will be arguing. It also sets up the pattern of organization you will use in your essay to present the proof necessary to support your argument.
In an academic essay, the beginning, middle, and end of the essay are known as the introduction, body, and conclusion:
Introduction: The opening sentences where the topic statement (the what, who, and when) must be introduced. It is also here where the central issue (the why and how) is addressed. Additional comments about the aim and outline structure of the essay are also sometimes included.
Body: It is here that you will cover the analysis or explanation, namely your examination of the evidence you've chosen to support your thesis. The body will also include your evaluation of that evidence. (The essay argument style you've chosen will dictate the manner and order in which this analysis and evaluation are presented.)
Conclusion: The end of the essay refers back to the introduction and explains how you met the goals of the essay. The limitations of the present work and recommendations for future action, study, or more research are also often part of the conclusion.
Present perfect tense is often used in the conclusion of an academic essay, to state what the writer has done and learned from the experience. Phrases such as “I have been doing research that leads to the conclusion that …” or “experts have said …” are in the present perfect tense.