The academic essay is a discursive genre at the same time as a writing widely disseminated in the study centers, which is characterized by the development of an idea along which the opinions expressed by others on the same subject and before the that a critical stance is adopted.
In the university field, the essay is one of the most used genres because it allows an agile and personal expression of the ideas, as well as facilitating the communication of the results of social science research. The essay is also a type of discourse that is used in the academic field in order to evaluate student learning and consists of the development of a subject in an extensive manner in order to demonstrate knowledge about it.
Therefore, the Reading and Writing programs of the UAM–A have as one of their objectives that the students know and master the characteristics of the essay, especially the essay of an academic nature, as well as that this genre has a strong didactic capacity to encourage the development of reflective thinking, it is common for students to write essays as part of the evaluation processes in their respective UEAs.
An academic essay should deal, to a greater or lesser extent, with a topic that, although already worked by other scholars, the author decides to approach from his own point of view, providing a novel and original vision, so it is a propositive work . Through the essay, the author can analyze some aspect of his field of knowledge or formulate a critical reflection on his reality from some personal experience.
The academic essay has an expository–argumentative character and is a means that allows the author to demonstrate his hypothesis or his position regarding the topic to be treated, which he will seek to demonstrate or refute through an argumentative sequence.
In the academic context and given its inherent freedom, the essay presents certain difficulty to differentiate it from other types of texts and formal spaces to which it is linked, especially in the academic field, such as the summary, the review, the monograph, the research article or thesis.
The difference with other academic genres, is that while in the essay the author exposes and defends his own ideas, in the summary, the review or the monograph, is limited to inform or synthesize the ideas of others. On the other hand, the distinction between the essay and the research article, is that an essay has the freedom to reflectively address several subjects or issues at the same time, while the research article is limited to reporting a particular scientific discovery. Finally, the difference with the thesis, is that it must develop extensively and in detail the subject it deals with, which usually extends in several tens or hundreds of pages, while the trial can dispense with the details and resolve in a few few pages.
Structure of the academic essay
The academic essay is composed of an introductory part in which the subject is presented, its relevance is explained and the approach with which it is going to be discussed is proposed, including a hypothesis or proposition about it.
The second part is the development of the topic itself, it is a discussion stage in which the approaches of others are compared with ours as authors of the essay, in order to provide feedback and strengthen the approach with which we are working on the subject.
The last part is the conclusion, in which the main arguments that led to verify, totally or partially, or to refute the hypothesis with which the work began are retaken. When this happens several times, the conclusions of the conclusions are the possibility of a new study, from a different point of view.
The length of an academic essay is variable and depends on the depth and detail with which it addresses its subject, as well as the medium of its publication. When an essay is published as part of a magazine or chapter of a collective work it can have an extension of between 5 and 20 pages, although it can also be a complete book.
References and critical apparatus
Although historically the genre of the essay is characterized by its formal freedom, in the case of the writing of essays in the academic field, a series of requirements are established that they must fulfill. One of these requirements is the need to clearly indicate when in our work we use the ideas of other authors, either as support for our argument or to criticize them. Therefore, in the case of academic essay it is necessary to clearly indicate when we resort to the ideas or opinions of other authors through the use of paraphrasing or the textual citation, for which it is necessary to resort to the use of a critical apparatus to clearly indicate the source from which this information was extracted, in addition to including the bibliography in which we document ourselves at the end.
Usually the essays are published in specialized books or scientific and academic journals in the humanistic area in which the work is located.
These types of journals are edited by universities and research institutes. The UAM–Azcapotzalco has a wide range of academic journals in different areas of the humanities disciplines.
It is also common to find academic essays as chapters of collective books that deal with a particular topic or in the format of papers presented at specialized congresses on the subject they are dealing with.