Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Writing an essay: Bibliographic research

An important step in writing an essay is researching the contents you wish to develop. Bibliography is the base for that labor. Its objective is to broaden the criteria, contrast views, and acknowledge the discussion’s background or records regarding a topic. Nevertheless, we are not looking for a founding criterion. To this respect, José Luis Gómez indicates that (1976):

For example, the true essay writer, in some special occasions will make use of the page footnotes, and this takes us to the core of our topic: citations, numerous in essays, have their own value in relation to what the essay writer is trying to communicate; it is important to highlight that someone came up with an idea, noted in the citation, but the “who” and the “where” lack of value. Citations are not important because an author mentioned them, but rather because they are efficient. The fact that citations are mentioned is with the intention to indicate that they are not on their own, but rather, form part of a cultural background that is being reviewed.

Ideas derived from bibliographies may be important, however, it must first be important for the essay writer. Therefore, base plan and revision must allow the drafting of ideas to illustrate, contrast, and compare ideas written by other authors.    


Regarding its extension or theme, the essay may resemble a monograph or scientific article. However, if the latter is considered to be a report of the integrative process of scientific research, meaning that it mentions theories, procedures and sources in a neat and detailed way, we can then start to notice differences between what is a scientific article and a monograph. The scope of scientific research processes reported in these articles, can be investigated, analyzed, contrasted, and approached in depth as an essay.

In theoretical related works carried in the fields of philosophy and philology, essays may lack visible methodological device (such as: formulas, frames or methods) and may be presented in a conventional or established structure as that of natural sciences (with an introduction, problem (question to be answered), results/proof and ending with a discussion). Thus, these aren’t called scientific articles, instead named as “essays”. This is a type of writing that could be called “Humanities” articles.

Another type of writing that is similar to an essay is the newspaper article. L. Ferrero (1979) considers it as one of its variants, yet acknowledging that the topics are often temporary or fleeting. In contemporary newspapers, there is coexistence between inconsequential materials and true essays, that is to say, works that will survive in time due to their message. For instance, the main works by the Costa Rican author Cristián Rodríguez, have been rescued from the newspapers and published in a book (1988). As well, Tribuna Nacional (National Tribune 1993) has gathered 25 years of outstanding essays published on page 15 of La Nación (The Nation newspaper) in Costa Rica.

Friday, June 19, 2015


- TRY to link parts of the text by using LINKING or TRANSITIONAL words: Therefore, Thus, On the other hand, On the contrary. Don’t over used words such as "But", “Even though” or "However", these tend to be over used, always vary your linking or transition words as much as you can.

- Don't repeat words, expressions or syntactic structures. It becomes redundant and distracts the reader.

- Don’t over use the term "society", especially if you are referring to something so obvious to our environment, or the residents of a country or any particular location. "Society" becomes a senseless word, removing its “color” and essence. This is obvious in school texts where the use of this word becomes overly redundant and boring.

- Don’t conclude a text by imposing or by asking people to have a good conscience. It’s about convincing others not preaching others…

- Make sure the last sentence of the text has a “punch” or particular stress on the topic. May it be a conclusion in a sentence, or a verse, or a rhetorical question…but always end the text, don’t leave it “wide open”.

- ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK the writing. Proofread and revise the writing. If you are writing this during an exam, make sure to leave time for this crucial part. Don’t leave chunks of text for the end try to write everything properly from the very beginning, this will save you time and effort.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The most general definition describes it as, “an essay is the literature of ideas”.  This means that aesthetic preoccupation and creation of expressive resources are added to utilitarian eagerness: approach and debate of current topics. Rodrigo Zeledon (1982) employs essays in order to “raise the interest of younger generations in the attractiveness of problems that come across in the broad field of the biological sciences”.

Another definition is attributed to J. Ortega and Gasset, in which they state, “an essay is science without proof”. This highlights the fact that an essay isn’t an irresponsible discourse but rather a text, which makes obvious the theoretical apparatus and the dryness of formulas in order to increase its readability and explicative capacity. José L. Vega Carballo (1979) points out the analytic scheme of one of his essays, “the here mentioned text should not be considered final or exhaustive, however, it is rather an approximation based on a global examination”.

The last definition proposed by Alfonso Reyes describes, “an essay is the literature in its most ancillary function”.  The word “ancillary”, meaning support, permits to express the subordinate role that the ornamental and imaginative has within this genre of writing. To this respect, Gómez de Baquero (1917) mentions, “an essay is located between the borders of two kingdoms: that of didactic literature and that of poetry, and makes excursions between both”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


- Through the use of personal experiences, observations and CONCRETE examples, this manages to grab the reader’s attention much more effectively than general or abstract information.

- A brief anecdote or a funny memory – related to the topic you are writing about – are always effective to use. YOU MUST ALWAYS USE ELEMENTS YOU KNOW ABOUT don’t use ideas that don’t even convince you.

- The unexpected or the unforeseen is often more efficient to use than the ideas/elements that we might all know about. If you are including, for instance, a reference to a public figure, don’t use the gossip about these celebrities (unfortunately, a lot of people do). It is better to write about public figures that have done philanthropy, politics, culture or that may be considered intellectuals. You ought to be up-to-date with news and events, at least go and leaf through the newspapers.

Monday, June 15, 2015


- Do not use the typical beginnings of a sentence: In today's world, In our day and age, in our society, etc… Begin by using a "hook": from a personal experience, an anecdote, recent news, an unusual event… something that will GRAB the reader’s attention. Generally, you might want to avoid common sense or widely accepted ideas, unless you want to argue against them. For example, “Everyone knows that environmental concerns are a huge problem”, this is a very weak beginning. It will be better if you write, “My neighbor takes out three bags of garbage every day”, (this is just an idea…don’t all use the same!).

- NEVER use the SECOND PERSON (YOU) when being impersonal: This is a COLLOQUIAL FEATURE not recommended when writing in an objective and formal manner (When you go to this place, you find that….Instead, write as follows: As attending this location, there appears to be…Or, when someone goes to this site, there is...etc). You must make it impersonal.

- Don’t use "etc." in order to stop the writing. Only use this when you do not wish to elaborate something that seems evident or obvious.

- Don’t over write; don’t make your text too wordy and complex. Make sure it’s clear and straightforward.

- Don’t fall into colloquialisms, or inaccurate information: Incorrect syntax, lexical or spelling will disrupt the reader and defocus his/her reading.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The chronological vs comparative order of an essay

The chronological order has characteristic links to help the text place itself in time, for instance words such as: initially, later, then, finally, immediately, the former, the latter, in the beginning, at the end, following, etc…

On the other hand, comparative order is the process dealing with a piece of information and seeing their similarities or differences. An essay then becomes a manifestation of reasoning. The following text is an example:

Stubborn and smart like any mountaineer; educated but shy; hardworking but not steady, seeking for an easy project to put his efforts; a selfish farmer, but kind yet firm, lives here in a village, which isn’t poor neither rich; he is no warrior but neither is he submissive. He is not a servant nor a rebel; a rebel without a war for independence; liberated from Spanish colonialism, as he arrived to Guatemala in October 1821, people told him that from September 15 they were free…A village without heroes, and if it did have some, it would destroy or forget them, which is yet another way of destruction. (I.F. Azofeifa 1979).

 The comparative order is reinforced in the text thanks to links such as: on the other hand, then again, in opposition to, different than, nevertheless, etc…

On the other hand, what is called cause-effect is a way of organizing a text by mentioning the reasons and consequences of such a situation. Below is an example:
Nowadays, man is not submitted to selection. That is why, natural selection will not impede the cumulous of genetic mutations, since human beings are intervening in this aspect, and allowing other beings to survive when in other conditions they wouldn’t have been able to survive or reproduce, or in other terms could have genetic limitations. This means that human beings have seen their genes weaken or mutated in a negative way through the years. By not having eliminated these bad genes, the future of our civilization could be weaker and unhealthy in comparison. (J. Jaramillo 1992).

The cause-effect order is evident thanks to the use of these links: therefore, consequently, due to, thanks to, for this reason, as a result, etc…
By using these link will permit to illustrate and better relate ideas. However, you must use these when necessary so as not to load the text with too many figures of speech.

The draft of an essay

The majority of essays become approximations or even initial sketches of what is truly being presented. Some examples below:

Even though I am conscious of my limitations, I wanted to provide the readers with a lived experience, or rather an intimate interpretation of the narrated events, seeking to link materialism with spiritualism, and the origin of our being to that of the beginning of great ideas (J. Jaramillo. The Human Adventure).

These essays – intended for educators, students of education and anyone interested in this topic – aim to contribute in the discussion and analysis of our educational system, as an indispensable step in order to improve it. (H. Perez. Essays on Education).

In the following pages, we propose an extensive description of the physical labors done by researchers, describing their meditation and thought process. We will mainly deal with the role of thoughts and ideas in the adventurous search for knowledge in the physical world. (A. Einstein, Ideas and Opinions).

Throwing sentences here and there, as separate parts of a same ensemble, unlinked, not following a plan or scheme. Therefore, don’t expect me to do it or that I focus on this project. I work when I want, and I give in to doubt and uncertainty, and to my usual ways that is ignorance (M. de Montaigne, Essays).

The certainty of these types of materials, regardless of the traditional modesty of the authors, constitutes one of the main resources of our modern culture. Through them we are able to debate the most influential ideas, we get to know the latest scientific advancements, we form our opinions, we come up with a productive discrepancy. In addition, what we have seen is that the most conspicuous scientist tends to abandon the rigorous proceedings of communication in his discipline, and takes the tool of essay writing in an attempt to analyze the object of study in a different manner.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Writings on very diverse topics are called “essays”. These deal with matters such as, history, science, philosophy, politics, etc.

In the first section, I have gathered seventeen essays on very diverse topics regarding popular sciences. Some are narratives; some are in the form of anecdotes, others as lessons/courses written for younger generations. (R. Zeledon. Essays and Scientific Ideas).

In this book, we explain the History of Guatemala using methodological principles that have been applied for the first time in our developmental study (s. Martinez. The Homeland of the Creole).

This essay explores the conception of the oniric life in the philosophy of Descartes (particularly in Meditations on First Philosophy) within the theoretical perspective of phenomenology (from Sartre’s philosophy and other phenomenological and anthropological works by Dieter Wyss). (A. Zamora. The Cogito also rings).

This essay attempts in organizing my worries along the years, as exposed in numerous articles and conferences presented in Costa Rica and abroad (Jose Figueres. The poverty of nations).

Aside from the already mentioned themes, there exist other traits that show differences among texts known as essays: the length of a piece varies from a few pages to a few hundred of them. The stringency of approaches goes from the impressionist analysis to the detailed conceptual frame; the communication mean can be a newspaper or even a very large and voluminous book, but could also be done as conference presentations or thesis/dissertation works.