How to Write a Criminology Essay
Writing a successful Essay in Criminology
Make sure you understand what is being asked of you
If you are to complete a well-written criminology essay then it is essential that you understand what is being asked of you. Are you being asked to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the issue or are you being asked to offer a critique. The difference is important because it will entirely alter the framework of your essay. Describing a concept requires you to present an understanding of relevant literature, but discussing or criticising the concept requires you to present an argument, which should conclude with an informed opinion. There are certain phrases that are commonly used in essay questions that indicate what is being asked of you. You should look out for words like, ‘discuss’, ‘explain’, ‘criticise’, ‘describe’. Once you have an understanding of the question, you should ensure that anything you write addresses the question and attempts to answer it. Keep referring back to the essay question to help you stay on track so that your criminology essay remains relevant.
Collate relevant information that will help you provide your answer
Once you have gained an understanding of what is being asked of you, your next task is to carry out relevant research. You will need to find information that addresses the question, which will require a great deal of wider reading. You will know at this point, which area of criminology you are going to be researching, which will help you hone in on certain authors or direct you towards certain sites, such as BUBL, or Social Science Information Gateway. You may have identified a need to collate statistics from the UK Statistics Authority. Although you may be aware of which sites will provide you with the information you are looking for you will still need to decipher the content for what is relevant and pertains to your essay question. Using online databases to find your articles will allow you to enter in keywords that you know are relevant to your research.
Plan what you are going to write about
Now that you have brought together all of the information that you require you will need to decide how you are going to use it. An essay plan will help you formulate your ideas and structure them into an understandable, well-presented argument. Without structure essays can lose meaning and become confusing. The reader is left with the task of finding out information for themselves rather than having it presented to them in a manageable format. You can start by deciding which content is useful and will introduce the reader to the essay so that they have an understanding of what you are writing about. What is the background to the essay that is useful for the reader to know about? From this point you can start to plan how you will discuss the subject and present the argument in terms of strengths and weaknesses, or present the relevant concepts in order of how they relate to one another. You can categorise your research into how it relates to your plan so that you know when you will make reference to each of your sources and how this relates to your understanding of how to write a criminology essay.
Structure your ideas
However you plan your ideas and whatever the essay question is, your structure will fall into three sections to include the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. The introduction is your opportunity to engage with the reader and offer insight into the area of inquiry. You can provide background so that the reader is aware of why this is an important subject. You can also provide an overview of what you are going to write about so that the reader is aware of what they will find out from reading your paper.
The main body will fall in line with the overview you have given in the introduction. You must organise your thoughts into a comprehensive flow of ideas and arguments that relate to one another so that your paper does not become disjointed. Every paragraph will make a point that flows into the paragraph that follows. If the content is easier to read it will be easier to mark.
The concluding section of your paper is your opportunity to bring together everything you have written and provide a general summation that reinforces your ideas and could be argued to be one of the most important parts to understand when learning how to write a criminology essay. You can only offer a conclusion based on what you have presented, however, as anything more would invalidate your conclusion based on the fact that it has not been grounded in substantial research. Only use the facts and arguments that you have been able to present based on the information you have been able to obtain. This will add meaning to your conclusion.
Follow any formatting requirements
Formatting may not seem like an essential consideration but the format for your essay will have been specified and if you cannot demonstrate that you are able to follow this then you will indicate that you may not be able to follow other instructions either. For the marker, this will create a negative impression of your abilities, and they may be left wondering if you do indeed know how to write a criminology essay. Pay attention to margins and line spacing. Choose a font that is readable and presentable. Most people opt for Times New Roman or Arial. Use spell checking tools to double check everything you have written is grammatically sound, and error free. Make any necessary amendments before submission.
Ensure originality of content and avoid plagiarism
Citations and referencing are essential and directly impact the validity and originality of your paper. Any idea that you present that isn’t your own must be referenced. Any source you quote or paper that you refer to must be cited. Your own ideas are important, though, and you should not be frightened of adding your own content. The marker will be well aware of all of the relevant concepts and findings that exist in your area of research and you are not being asked to simply make a list of, and explain, everything you have read about. Add your own interpretations of the material you have read. This will make your essay more interesting to those who are marking it. Be conscious, though, that any idea that isn’t yours must be referenced or else you will be exposed to accusations of plagiarism, which is very serious.
How to reference
Part of the understanding of how to write a criminology essay relates to understanding how to reference correctly. Be sure to cite every source you use in the text. This can be done in the following ways:
In text citations tend to take three forms. If a theory is cited then it is with the author’s surname and the date of their paper in brackets. If the author is referenced then the date of the paper you are referring to must be included in brackets. If you are inserting a direct quotation then you must provide the author’s surname, the date of the paper, and the page the quote was written on.
Anything you cite must be included in your list of references and provide all of the details of each source. The sources may come in the form of a book, a section within a book, a journal, or a web-based reference. Each different type of source requires its own referencing source and will depend on the referencing style you are being asked to follow, which is usually Harvard or APA for the social sciences. If you are using Harvard, check out this generator to help you create your bibliography!
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