A social sciences paper is an argument, no more, no less. While that may seem easy, writing a good argumentative paper takes time and practice. Here are some basic guidelines for producing a solid essay, no matter the topic.
Your thesis statement is the core of your argument. It should make it clear what side you’re on. That said, you don’t need to list all your supporting arguments in your thesis statement, just the overarching point: a good thesis statement is punchy and direct. Try researching and writing your paper with a specific question in mind and, once you’ve finished the paper, create your thesis statement as the answer to that question. That way your thesis statement will be sure to match your essay!
There are several things to keep in mind when writing your supporting arguments. First of all, make sure they actually support your thesis statement. This may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed. Next, present your evidence in a logical order. Think of your essay like a story and that each argument builds off the one before. Last, but certainly not least, be sure to make it clear HOW your arguments support your thesis. Don’t just slap some facts down on the page—explain why and how these facts prove your point. This is key, especially if you’re in your first or second year. Your professor wants to see that you understand what you are arguing.
An essay has three main parts: the introduction, the arguments, and the conclusion. Don’t neglect your introduction and conclusion. The introduction should catch your reader’s attention and give them some background knowledge. It should also include your thesis statement! The conclusion, meanwhile, should present your thesis in a new light, taking into account all the new information you’ve provided. It should place your argument in a wider context, showing the reader the importance of your argument and why they should care. However, even if your conclusion is not the most thrilling, resist the temptation to just copy and paste your introduction at the end of your essay. Your professor will be seriously unimpressed. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, or how much you hate this essay—write a conclusion.
There is no greater gift you can give your grades than editing. Again, it doesn’t matter how sick of that essay you are. Print it off and read it through two, or three, or four times. Edit, edit, edit!