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Academic Style and Formatting 1. Block Quotation: There is a limit on the number of words of the section to be quoted in text. That is a word limit of 40 words max. The reason for that is to prevent the writer from quoting too much and filling up the essay with source information. Also, in one paragraph (where one point of comparison/ contrast is discussed) the writer should use maximum one or two short quotations and so have some space for his/her own ideas/commenting on the source information, etc. 2. Introducing the Source(s): i.

The common observation is most of the students use the phrase “According to …” (According to the website/ Author …). However, to save your essay from being tedious and repetitive, you should use some other forms of introduction, like:


According to the information on the website, www. …, “………..”.


As is stated/ mentioned/ pointed out/ argued/ etc. on the website, www. …, “……..”.

ii. -

If you refer to a book/ or article: Refer to the author(s) if there is any author(s) (wrong) According to the article: Social Psychology, “…” (correct) According to Author (Year), “…”


Refer to the name of the book if it is a collected materials pack with no specific author mentioned, write the name of the book in italics: According to the book, Education 101, “…”.


If there are two authors, you have to refer them both: According to Jackson and Mahoney (2001), “…”


If there are more than two authors, state all the names in the first reference: As Jackson, Tyson and Jordan (2002) argue, “…”.


Then when you refer to the same authors, mention the first author only and use the “et al.” short form, which means “and others” As Jackson et al. (2002) also point out, “…”.

iii. -

If you refer to a web source: Don’t write the whole web address (you’ll give the full reference in the References section), but just the main web address, like: (wrong) According to the information on the website,, “…” (correct) According to the information on the website,, “…”


3. You can use the words/ phrases you learned from the sources in your essay, that’s a nice thing because it shows that you learn new words and phrases as you read and that you can use them in different contexts. However, be very careful, not to copy exact phrases or sentences from the sources as they are (you run the risk of plagiarizing information). Try to rewrite the sentence(s) in your sentences and words; if you cannot do that, be on the safe side and use quotation marks (“…”) and so that you can avoid plagiarism! 4. Avoid 1st person singular: To sound more formal and academic, try to use 1st person singular, especially in the main body of your essay (you may use it in the conclusion when you give your personal thoughts and opinions). Following are some suggestions of how you can use alternative forms (the ones in parentheses): -

When we look at the situation, (When the situation is looked at/ considered)


After I have done some research on this issue, I realized that … (After having done some research on this issue, one can realize/ one can understand/ it can be seen that…)


As we see, (As is seen/ is observed)


Firstly I want to mention… (The first thing to be mentioned)


If you ask me which one is better, I advise you private schools are better (If one has to make a choice, private schools seem to be a better option)


As I mentioned, (As is mentioned/ stated above)

5. Save personal opinions/ statements for the conclusion: Take an objective stance in the body when you discuss the points of comparison/ contrast in the body. Following is an example from one student’s essay. The student, after mentioning a point of comparison/contrast, states her ideas; my suggestion is to reserve these opinions for the conclusion paragraph where you are given an opportunity to state your personal remarks: i. -

What the student has done:

(after mentioning the difference between EMU and METU in terms of programs/ departments they offer) I think EMU should improve their faculties.


(after saying that unlike METU, EMU does not offer distance/online education) I think that is a big loss for the university.


(after comparing the two universities in regards of their location) I think they both have nice locations… ii.


What I suggest for the conclusion:

Having looked at the differences between EMU and METU in terms of their location and the number and variety of programs they offer to students, it seems necessary for EMU to consider incorporating online education and more programs and departments in its faculties. Also, it is nice to observe that both universities have nice locations where 3

students have no difficulty getting to campus and the nearby locations where they can enjoy different facilities. 6. Avoid certain judgments/statements; use modals of probability (e.g., may/ might) or structures of probability (e.g., it is likely/ it seems that). Some examples: -

Poor people are more illiterate (Poor people seem/ tend to be more illiterate compared to wealthier ones)


Poor people don’t show more love to their children (Poor people may not be able to show adequate affection to their children)

7. Use structures that prepare room to introduce your sources. To do this, use such verbs as below: -

When compared to men, women are reported/told/observed to consume more fruit and vegetables. According to the findings of a research study, as reported in the website,, “women tend to consume …”.

!! ONLINE HELP!! – Please visit Literacy Education Online (LEO) website on For everything you should know about academic writing, including in-text quoting and paraphrasing, how to refer to different sources (e.g., books, articles, Internet sources, etc.).

Language 1. Revise your essay after you have finished writing and make sure there aren’t any grammar, spelling or punctuation mistakes. If necessary, refer to a grammar book / dictionary to check for grammar or spelling or parts of speech. Don’t make such silly mistakes any more: -

For learn

2. Articles (a/an/the/zero article): These are one of the most common error types many students tend to make. And they are the hardest structures to learn (as we don’t have articles in Turkish); but it’s your responsibility to know when a noun takes article and when not! 3. Attempt more complex structures: Try to use more relative clauses, more academic vocabulary and elaborate structures. Writing is a developmental process and you are expected to write better and more academic as a university student. By simply inserting some phrases or replacing a simple word with a more higher-level one, you can turn your simple sentences into more complex ones:



Men and women have different world of work, sex roles and eating habits (Men and women seem to have different roles and status in the world of work, are attributed different sex roles, and exhibit different eating habits).


You can see these two places’ economic contribution (You can see how these two tourist attractions contribute to the country’s economy by hosting thousands of tourists and visitors from various different countries all around the world)

Vocabulary 1. Collocations: One important thing about the vocabulary you want to use in your essay is to know in which contexts you can use that word and with which other words. How a specific word behaves in a certain context (that is, which words it tends to occur with) is called collocation. Knowing a word is beyond simply knowing its meaning. Knowing a word also requires you to also know about its collocations. My advice is to refer to the following web address to find out answers to anything concerning lexis (vocabulary use and knowledge):

http://www. For example, you want to use the word satisfaction in your text. You can check on this website with what words this noun occurs. Here are the steps: i.

Click on the “concordance” link on the website.


Click on “Corpus-based concordances: English”


Type in the word satisfaction in the space and click on “get concordance”.

You will get a long list of one-line contexts where the word occurs with other words. When you examine this line, you will see that the word satisfaction usually takes the following verbs (look at the words on the left of satisfaction): (v) express/ feel/ gain/ wring satisfaction When you look at the words that follow the word satisfaction, you will see the prepositions used with it: satisfaction in/ for/ out of/ If you want to further examine the context where the word satisfaction occurs, you can click on the word satisfaction on one of the lines, and you’ll be taken to the context (paragraph) in which


the word is used. Here you can read the whole context and see how the word is used in that broad context. Using a concordance is much better than simply checking the word in a dictionary, because the dictionary will give you only one example sentence. However, by looking at the concordance lines, you can observe the word occurring in many different sentences and even paragraphs. So you can better understand how the word can be used in different contexts for different meanings. The following are some words your friends used in their essay drafts. Here is a practice opportunity for you. Check the concordance tool on the website,, for these words: -

researched some information (type researched and check if the word research is used as a verb in that sense; then type research and see in what form the word is used (verb or noun)


__v__ research (check what verb(s) are used with the word)


wearing style (type wearing and check if such an expression occurs in English)


benefit (v/ n) (check in what meanings and contexts, and with what words the word benefit occurs; also see which form (verb or noun) is more commonly used.


Wealth and wealthy (check what words come before and after this word (e.g., what verbs and prepositions are used with that word)


lux (check if this word exists in English)


researches (check if there is plural form of this word)


__v__ experiment __prep__ (check what verbs and prepositions are used with it)


Contemporary __N__ (see what nouns this adjective describes)


Experiences (is it a countable or uncountable word)


respect __prep__ (see what prepositions are used; also see if there are any common expressions including respect, e.g., with respect to)


TermProject:Compare/Contrast Essay Drafts_Feedback  

General Feedback on Student Essays: Common Issues regarding Style & Formatting, Grammar and Vocabulary

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