UPSC : GUIDELINES ON ESSAY WRITING

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UPSC : GUIDELINES ON ESSAY WRITING 

An essay is a written exposition on a given subject which allows the writer to organize her/ his thoughts intellectually, and present them in a logical and coherent manner. Essay writing aids in critical reading and in developing written communication skill. It fosters a spirit of logical inquiry and an ability to identify significant aspects of any topic. It allows the writer  to construct arguments supported by evidence.Essay is a critical examination of the issue which presents its various dimensions. All pertinent questions are raised and answered. The author is required to take a stand after examining all facts and facets and present it in a convincing and well thought out manner.
The objective of an essay is to convey the author’s thoughts on the topic s/he sets out to examine. A well written essay can shed new light on the subject and add significantly to the existing body of knowledge.

Theme and Topic: 

1. National Security: Threats to National Security in Coming Decade
2. National Integration and Communal Harmony : Science and Technology as a promoter of Communal harmony in the Society
3. Human Rights : Nationalism, Globalisation and Humanitarian Crisis-The paradox of our times
4. Science and Human Development : Nurturing Scientific Temper in India: Challenges and Prospects

Schedule:

Language: Essay can be written in English/Hindi.
Word limit: The word limit of 3000 words has to be strictly adhered to. Prepare a draft of the essay which is longer than the prescribed word limit. Revise the draft after consulting your colleagues or the Counsellor.
Font and spacing: A typed soft copy has to be submitted. The Essays in English, should be in Times New Roman or Verdana font, font size 12, with a spacing of 1.5 on an A4 size sheet.
Evaluation: Essay carries 10 marks for Director’s Evaluation and will be assessed by the respective Counsellor in case of essays other than the Essay on National Security. The Essay on National Security will be evaluated by Senior Army Officers. While assessing, due weightage is given to creativity, structure, grammar, length, adherence to topic and novelty. Delayed submissions will result in zero marks. The grading will be as follows 

  Sl no.  Component of grading Mark
  1.

Analysis:

  •  Use of evidence, examples and other studies to support the analysis
  •  Quality of arguments to support the main idea
40
  2.

Language:

  •  Grammar and syntax,
  •  Craftsmanship and creativity in presentation
20
  3.

Structure:

  •  Logical and methodical presentation of ideas
10
  4.  Originality 10
  5. Adherence to word limit 10
  6. Overall impact of the Essay 10
    Total Marks 100

Note: 100 marks will have a weightage of 10 marks in Director’s assessment.
Style: Every individual has a style of expression and word usage. It becomes very clear to the reader when an essayist cobbles up random quotes from various sources since there is no consistency in style. Use of short and simple sentences is preferable. It is better to spread out complex/compound sentences. Flowery language and archaic use puts off readers and more often does not communicate the meaning at all. Word / phrase usage should be appropriate. Refer to get the correct meaning and the context of usage of words, whenever in doubt. Usually essays are written in third person singular. However, narrative in the first person can be adopted if you have a flair for it. Avoid use of words which convey vagueness or uncertainty. Avoid repetitive use of words. (Example –but, therefore, supposedly, as they say, not only but also, used to etc.)
Lay out: Every essay has the following layout1.
Introduction
2. Body /Discussion
3. Conclusion
Plan the word limit for each of these sections. As you research the topic, it is useful to take notes with relevant references and later on arrange them in logical sequence.

Introduction generates interest in the topic. A statement, a quotation or an incident can be used to open an essay.
The body contains review of available literature, raises pertinent issues or questions, presents them in the context, and sheds light on the views of the author and the thought process that leads her/him to those views. Every idea is presented in one or more separate paragraphs arranged in logical sequence. When there is a need to reiterate an idea already discussed, it can be mentioned in detail. While reinforcement of a line of thought may need reiteration, try and reduce redundancy. Pay attention to Grammar and spelling.
The conclusion of an Essay is more than just a summary. It gives a comprehensive idea of what has been discussed and the settled thoughts of the author after due inquiry. 

Referencing: Same guidelines to be followed as given for the Book review. Foot notes:

Foot notes can be given wherever relevant. Care should be taken that they are short and never longer than the main text on the page. 
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is strictly prohibited. The Essay has to be put through Turn it in Software before submission. More than 10% of commonality will attract penal action and the essay will be marked zero.The entire activity of Essay writing should result in knowledge and skill enhancement to the writer. A good essay gives a comprehensive idea of the topic and makes for an interesting reading.
Suggested References: Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M Williams, (2008) The Craft of Research, University of Chicago Press: Chicago 

Courtesy : LBSNAA

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