The Secret

The Secret

How to write an essay

In the tower there are two General types of written work: essays and abstract.

The abstract, typically, rather dull, contains a stern Marc stern collection of literature on a specific topic. They need to be familiar with the essence of the book/article/a-specific subjects.

Essay something more fun. It also needs to reflect the essence of the books/articles/subjects, but in an essay you are expected not only to paraphrase the thoughts of others, but also how you felt it => expression of their own position.

The danger for any essay/essay – water.

On the one hand, it is understandable in the case where there are stringent requirements in terms of volume. On the other hand, the teachers or look at her through my fingers or that I wasn’t => work will be perceived as weak => the assessment will neoch.

Over the years of training in  bachelor’s and grad school I never write my essay now learned how to shed “water”, so my essays rarely exceed 5-6 pages. And sometimes this was at odds with the requirements (there are fanatics who give 10 pages, well…)!

Life hack: comprehensive, but structured and interesting to the composed text, all is forgiven :D

Because the most important is the quality of the work performed!

The teachers (I had too!) developed skill not only to read diagonally, but some … let’s call it “feature set” by which to assess written work. Don’t forget that everything is always very subjective!

All written works you will encounter in the tower, there is a kind of universal three-part structure to be followed:

1) Introduction – justification of the choice of topic, problem statement (optional – the description of a problem situation), input of key concepts, identification of the structure of the following text;

2) the Main part is a logical argument related to the consideration designated in the introduction of perspective by introducing the concepts (and references to key authors and works associated with them). There may also be a description of the cases used as an example, which confirms the accuracy of your judgments. Sometimes the main part of the text is to reveal the contents of the other text which you “abstracted out”;

3) Conclusion – “to summarize …” – formulate conclusions based on arguments from the main part, correlate them with the theme and formulation of the problem (did you answer the question that was laid in the formulation of the problem). In some cases, you have to write “the future”, i.e., any new outstanding issues or thought about in what direction will move the research on the discussed topic.

Check-list for the person who writes the text

Designated topic (and/or perspective)

Proper design (format bibliography)

On each course for essay special requirements included in the validation criteria. Because I was doing an essay of high school students and bachelors of sociology, we will explain some details for each:

HSE Lyceum

Volume: A4 paper with one or two sides

Time: 1.5 hours to write in class

Statement of problem: the context, ie in the quote, which is embedded in the wording of the topics is the problems (inequality, conflict, discrepancy) that you want-not to solve.

The principle of operation with the text of essays: formal, i.e. you already know and in what sequence to write.

Introduction: problem statement input 3 of unit concepts in sociology, which you are going to explain the essence of the statements (they should not overlap, i.e. to explain, for example, conflict in the family through “social group” and “small group” is not a ride)

Main part: 3 argument

– the argument “over” (with justification);

– the argument “against” (the counterargument to the justification or the reductio ad absurdum of the original author)

– Boolean argument “if … ” (from General judgments to specific)

– for each argument you have to pick one from 3 concepts with justification of choice (preferably with reference to the author)

– each argument is accompanied by one of the 3 types of examples (fiction, world or national history, everyday experience)


a generalization of the arguments from the main part, which boils down to your (non)agreement with the author’s position

– a clarification or rebuttal of the position of the author on the basis of the given arguments

– substantial conclusion

How to prepare: as you progress through the course, write out definitions for the terms in parentheses indicate names of authors, in passing, note the cases that you can use as examples of different types.

1 year undergraduate

Task: describe the situation (0.5-1 page) and to give a sociological interpretation (2 pages).

Volume: 3-5 pages titulnik and references

Problem statement: situational, ie in the description of the situation the reader should be apparent the basic conflict of the parties or the inconsistency of the theory practice.

The principle of working with texts: auxiliary, i.e. it is important for you to indicate in the main part of the work, which concepts from General sociology you are suitable to analyze the situation, provide their definitions and links to authors. In the future, translate the description, which did at the beginning of the essay, “scientific language” and consider your situation in the broader context of the selectedsocial phenomenon or process.

Conclusion: a logical synthesis of all the above you are considered interpretations of the situation.

What books to take:

– valid sociological dictionaries and textbooks of Giddens and Sztompka, if difficult to track the source for a particular term;

– valid longreads and video lectures from the portal Postnauka (make a reference to the electronic resource).

What not to take: Wikipedia ready essays on a similar topic (Big brother will find plagiarism).

3rd year of bachelor

The task: to reveal the contents of the theme, which is taken from the program course OR is formulated independently and is discussed with the teacher.

Volume: not more than 6 pages of text titulnik and references

Problem statement: the theoretical, i.e., for works which you consider, or issues with which he worked(a) by the author. Optionally you can mention the relevance of this problem to date.

The principle of working with texts: analytical, ie you are “mind read” some texts on the basis of which made the reasoning, BUT this process will need to figure out how to call it from the point of view of the methodology. Here, alas, no ready-made language, so consider yourself on it.

On the exam-the interview, the SP always asks what were you doing with the selected literature, as it was analyzed to answer the essay problem.

Conclusion: a logical synthesis of the identified developments criticism return to the problem and an explanation of how the author coped with it (or not coped).

What books to take:

– Primary SOURCES

— in Russian language with adequate (adequacy is available from VG)

— in the original language if no translation or it is considered inadequate (for example, you may meet the distortion of the translation of key terms)

– articles about selected theorist

– articles critical of a selected theorist (from his/her contemporaries or the latest publications, but all about the same)

What not to take: Wikipedia ready essays on a similar topic (plagiarism), academic literature (it books), the academic publications from dubious sources (all kinds of “the Messengers” and logs the overly broad language in the titles).

The choice of topic and statement of the problem

Typically, the list of topics for written work you are given in the syllabus.

Sometimes (as in the case of course sectionii) are encouraged to self-select topics. And in mA, for example, on any tutorial you write all the texts linked to the topic of the master thesis.

I advise you to pay attention to the fact that sociology is actually EVERYWHERE. A couple of years you will notice that the plots of most movies and TV shows for you will be too predictable – it’s a sign that you are on the right path to the development of sociological knowledge! Well, even friends will begin to hate you for spoilers during the show, this is also an indicator :)

I believe that while you can “be yourself”, then go ahead and take most unexpected cases! It can be stories TV series, cartoons, movies, comics, video games – anything with some history. Some of your predecessors chose “steam” and wrote almost about beaten along and across the topic about the boy Mowgli or used to take subjects from the school curriculum for literature. And – guess what – it was not only boring, but a weak work which has received the appropriate evaluation. Shakes on a mustache. Life stories is no less fascinating than the fruits of mass culture. The main thing to submit to the verifier.

Statement of the problem

It’s a trap for all the students of all the courses and directions of all majors ever. We talk a lot (and will talk) about how important a problem, but how to do it, so I couldn’t always explain.

1) the Problem is your question you want to answer in the essay. Without perspective, the essay turns to hot air.

2) the Problem – is debatable! You can give your answer and your classmate will offer an alternative solution! In sociology there is nothing definite, so both you and your classmate may be right. Or both of you will criticize someone else.

3) the problem has many faces and names, so there is no established clichés of how to define the problem. There are some words that often enough there are (inequality, inequality, restriction, etc.) there is usually someone (a social group), who is out of work or terms of your issues with him something.

Let me try to give you an example.

Here, for example, did the bike route along the Boulevard ring in Moscow. This is the result of the solution to some problem. There may be themes?

Cycling and “velosipedisty Moscow” (the first initiative of citizens, the second – government program)

The interaction between cyclists and motorists (and other road users)

The concept of “city, convenient for life” {life of different groups of townspeople}

Urban trends (“in Europe, everything has been done for cyclists, we are worse than”)

The fight against traffic jams in Moscow (for machines will be less space => “and let Muscovites will ride bikes”).

Each subject their level of social acuity, so the list goes on. And what there can be problems that require research?

Inequality of participants of traffic

The problem of inconsistency of policies of the Moscow government in the field of transport planning in European standards (it is important to give the justification for such thoughts)

the list, again, you can continue

Skill in the formulation of the problem of the study is pumped through familiarization with greater and greater number of studies on various topics, as well as the development of different directions (paradigms) in sociological theory.

Sometimes scientists distinguish between overthinking and “Social problem” and “Social problem”. And ask that you do us.

In the case of social problems should be marked with some form of inequality or shows the conflict parties.

A sociological problem expresses an objective presentation of a problem situation (case) indicates a contradiction between common sense (or theoretical model) and the actual behaviour of people.

I hope you get the point.

Your situation – it is as Floriana with succulents. You can look at it from different angles, and each “line” is a new issue that you discover.

Don’t worry if you do not get the “right” to formulate the problem in an essay. Everything comes with experience. And I as a reviewer will try to correct if something was wrong.

The selection of literature

Everything is simple, because there are “mandatory” literature “more”.

Obligatory is the one which was mastered during the course and expected in a particular subject matter. For example, if you write about the city, we expect you to reference at the Chicago sociological tradition. And if you have a class conflict, the failure to mention Marx or Bourdieu – a bad tone! Well, stuff like that. Good old classic, one word.

Additional – completely your choice. Fully optional. You can not bother and base their judgments on the classical principles that you learned that were clear and available. The category of “further reading” include any fresh, whether a “new theory” (usually students don’t pay attention to the fact that the “new” in their view theory actually date back to 1970-80-ies somewhere abroad, and, most likely, in the academic world, they are not as “new”, and most modern “boom” of Western thought reach Russia through the years, so 20 years later, lol), new research on classic themes, new followers, old classics, etc.

This also can be attributed to critical areas if critical sociology is not the main for of your essay.


The mantra of good old PPO: Times New Roman 12pt (sometimes 14pt), 1.5 line spacing (sometimes single), the first line indent 1,25 cm, justified alignment (header – center).

If a job takes more than 3-4 pages (not including list liters), you need a title page. When the work is very small, it is enough to write on top of the name and group number.

This standard, incidentally, is spelled out somewhere in the Guest, i.e. all documents (not only essays and term) are made this way.

The attentive reader will notice that we forgot to discuss…

Each of you is unique. Each of you his way to explain some things. Someone brave, so bravely expresses his opinion (though not always out of place…), someone smart, but modest, and prefers to hide behind a clever quote, someone doesn’t know what to do, and in the course of the sequential reasoning to something eventually comes. It’s okay! In the end, in the framework of the essay from you do not expect mind-blowing discoveries.

How can I improve my essay:

The epigraph to the topic – it needs to be short and sound stylish. Teachers appreciate this technique! Only if it’s short, stylish and in theme.

Writing style: the abstract is meant simply, “dry” academic writing, while in an essay to turn! It is not forbidden imitation of the style of a particular writer (in this case, rather of the researcher). Try not to wallow in the metaphors.

Your reasoning! Set them the way you like! Try to explain intelligibly. You can ask rhetorical questions, just don’t overdo it. Over time you will learn to do it like they did it steep the researchers, but it is important you know where to start.

For those who have reached here, the most important life hack for today:


Such a luxury you can afford until the 3rd course because it will gain experience in writing large volumes of text.

Now it is better to stick to such a plan:

1 week to search topics

2 weeks on a literature review, reading/note-taking, search that you can use for citations and references

At least 2 days to write, plus 1 DAY for proofreading!!!!!!!!! What a shame to get interesting workbut every 2-3 paragraph to catch the eye typos____for the teacher it is a sign of laziness and nesobrannosti.

It is better to devote to writing an essay the weekend prior to the deadline, in the event that something adjusted for Monday and Tuesday. Usually the morning after a “night essay” you can look at your text with fresh eyes and identify the weed. And thus eliminate them before delivery!

Please note that often in LMS like to put a deadline of 23:59!

That’s all!

Ksenia Antonova

Graduate school of Sociological Sciences, HSE, 2 year