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academic writing 学术写作

An example of academic writing using signposting

Signposting phrases in boldSignposting phrases in bold

Essay title - Is the purpose of academic study to answer questions or to ask new ones?

The following is an example essay written at an English level suitable for university level of academic writing. This standard is not far above about a minimum required for university English entry requirement for writing at IELTS 6.5 to 7.0. Copyright for this original essay - "Key Open", dated 3 Sept 2015. This example is of quality that was written in less than two hours (rather than in 20 days).

Essay for the above title (signposting done in bold blue)

Everyone has questions and answers daily, some have more questions than answers and vice versa. This essay seeks to investigate whether the purpose of academic study is to answer questions or to ask for new ones. But the investigation is very broad therefore this essay limits its investigation in one aspect only, which is that of “the use a study is put to”.

A study is usually limited otherwise no one would finish his study. A limited study means the course or research is clearly defined at the beginning of study.  Because the study is defined therefore the number of questions that would be studied and have answers learnt would be limited. At the end of the study the student has the answers as his knowledge and skills. To illustrate this a student learns in maths, for example, mechanics, statistics and algebra. During the course he is asked many maths questions, through time and hard work, he should have found and learnt all the answers. Without a doubt this study is to answer questions. It is expected that if the student were to learn the whole course perfectly he would score 100% in examination. Additionally such an examination would not ask a student to answer a new question that he has not studied before. Moreover it would be quite unfair to expect a student to have an answer using a study that was not taught. It can be seen from this example the purpose of study is to answer questions. This study is characterised by an undergraduate course or A levels.

In contrast with the above a study may be partially limited or unlimited. Firstly, a partial study can mean that a student learns a lot of knowledge and answers a lot of questions. However at the end of this study, having all the answers, he is given further study in the form of a study project. Then he has to use his knowledge and study to acquire more knowledge as required and he has to ask questions often in order to finish his project assignment. The evidence is that a student is expected to use his problem solving and analytical skills to ask questions about what he is doing. This type of skill in asking more questions where there may or may not be answers is typical that of a masters course. Secondly, a study that is unlimited in nature. This is typical of a PhD or Doctorate study, this area of study is best described as research and development, R&D. As a student gets more knowledgeable and skilled in problem solving and analysis, he is given more unknowns to research where answers are needed by industry or by further and deeper academic research. In R&D there are always more questions for which there are no answers as yet. One good example is the study of cancer, without a debate, based on historical record, it is clear that although many answers are known there are many more questions unanswered and new questions come up all the time. Therefore the evidence is that the purpose of study in R&D raises questions where the answers are often valuable commercially.

As can be seen from the above, the “use of a study is put to” decides whether a study is to answer questions or to raise questions. Moreover it is expected that as a student advances from A levels to undergraduate, masters and PhD, each has its specific purpose, he has to increasingly use his study to ask more questions so as to discover answers that are unknown at the moment.