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This book guides students in how to construct coherent and powerful essays and dissertations by demystifying the process of creating an argument and helping students to develop their critical skills. It covers everything from the beginning stages of reading critically and keeping notes, through to the final stages of redrafting and proof-reading. It provides step-by-step instructions in how to identify, define, connect and contrast sociological concepts and propositions in order to produce powerful and well-evidenced arguments. Students are shown how to apply these lessons in essay writing, and to a longer piece of writing, such as a dissertation, as well as how to solve common problems experienced in writing, including getting rid of waffle, overcoming writer’s block and cutting an essay down to its required length. For students wishing to improve their basic writing skills or to refresh their memories, the book also gives a clear and concise overview of the most important grammatical rules in English and how to use them to good effect in writing clear sentences and sensible paragraphs.

Examples from essays written by sociology students at leading universities are used throughout the book. These examples are used to show what students have done well, what could be done better and how to improve their work using techniques of argument construction. It will be of use to students studying sociology and related disciplines, such as politics, anthropology and human geography, as well as for students taking a course which draws upon sociological writing, such as nursing, social psychology or health studies.

Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This chapter explores the use of the techniques and tools developed in the preceding chapters in the context of writing a longer piece of work, i.e. a dissertation. It shows that each chapter of a dissertation can be thought of as a response to a set of implicit questions which a reader might have about the dissertation, and guides students through writing their dissertation with these questions in mind. It details what is expected of a literature review, a methodology and a findings section in a sociological dissertation. The chapter shows that the argument in a dissertation has to be developed in each individual section.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This part provides solutions to common problems of essay writing that are easy to put into practice. Tips for deciding which essay question to choose include reminding students to think about displaying their own skills and understanding to best advantage. Dealing with difficulties in deciding what to read includes advice on thinking about the overall timetable as well as reasons for distinguishing between genres (e.g. journalism, textbooks, academic journal articles). The problem of writers’ block is cut down to size with simple, tried and tested tricks for side-stepping it. Advice on whether or not to use rhetorical questions (on the whole, not) and practical suggestions for writing to the required length (including cutting an essay to the required length) end the 5 succinct chapters in this part.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This part provides solutions to common problems of essay writing that are easy to put into practice. Tips for deciding which essay question to choose include reminding students to think about displaying their own skills and understanding to best advantage. Dealing with difficulties in deciding what to read includes advice on thinking about the overall timetable as well as reasons for distinguishing between genres (e.g. journalism, textbooks, academic journal articles). The problem of writers’ block is cut down to size with simple, tried and tested tricks for side-stepping it. Advice on whether or not to use rhetorical questions (on the whole, not) and practical suggestions for writing to the required length (including cutting an essay to the required length) end the 5 succinct chapters in this part.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This part provides solutions to common problems of essay writing that are easy to put into practice. Tips for deciding which essay question to choose include reminding students to think about displaying their own skills and understanding to best advantage. Dealing with difficulties in deciding what to read includes advice on thinking about the overall timetable as well as reasons for distinguishing between genres (e.g. journalism, textbooks, academic journal articles). The problem of writers’ block is cut down to size with simple, tried and tested tricks for side-stepping it. Advice on whether or not to use rhetorical questions (on the whole, not) and practical suggestions for writing to the required length (including cutting an essay to the required length) end the 5 succinct chapters in this part.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This part provides solutions to common problems of essay writing that are easy to put into practice. Tips for deciding which essay question to choose include reminding students to think about displaying their own skills and understanding to best advantage. Dealing with difficulties in deciding what to read includes advice on thinking about the overall timetable as well as reasons for distinguishing between genres (e.g. journalism, textbooks, academic journal articles). The problem of writers’ block is cut down to size with simple, tried and tested tricks for side-stepping it. Advice on whether or not to use rhetorical questions (on the whole, not) and practical suggestions for writing to the required length (including cutting an essay to the required length) end the 5 succinct chapters in this part.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Should I use them?
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This part provides solutions to common problems of essay writing that are easy to put into practice. Tips for deciding which essay question to choose include reminding students to think about displaying their own skills and understanding to best advantage. Dealing with difficulties in deciding what to read includes advice on thinking about the overall timetable as well as reasons for distinguishing between genres (e.g. journalism, textbooks, academic journal articles). The problem of writers’ block is cut down to size with simple, tried and tested tricks for side-stepping it. Advice on whether or not to use rhetorical questions (on the whole, not) and practical suggestions for writing to the required length (including cutting an essay to the required length) end the 5 succinct chapters in this part.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This part provides solutions to common problems of essay writing that are easy to put into practice. Tips for deciding which essay question to choose include reminding students to think about displaying their own skills and understanding to best advantage. Dealing with difficulties in deciding what to read includes advice on thinking about the overall timetable as well as reasons for distinguishing between genres (e.g. journalism, textbooks, academic journal articles). The problem of writers’ block is cut down to size with simple, tried and tested tricks for side-stepping it. Advice on whether or not to use rhetorical questions (on the whole, not) and practical suggestions for writing to the required length (including cutting an essay to the required length) end the 5 succinct chapters in this part.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This chapter examines three examples of student work in detail. It reviews each one to show what the students have done well and what they have not done so well, by showing how they have used the techniques detailed in the book and where they could improve their writing by use of these techniques. Each case study is then revised in light of the critical comments on the examples to show students how to implement such changes in their own work.

in The craft of writing in sociology
Abstract only
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

This chapter reviews some different essay structures which sociological arguments might take, including: ‘compare and contrast’, ‘build and refine’, ‘author and their critics’ and ‘data interpretation and analysis’. It explores in fine detail how an argument can be built by use of objects, concepts and propositions, showing how to link a critical review of the literature into an independent argument. It stresses the importance of connecting, comparing and contrasting definitions, concepts and propositions in order to build a response to arguments found in the sociological literature.

in The craft of writing in sociology