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How to structure a discursive essay?

Discursive essays are those that are written in a purely academic sense. They are completely unbiased and offer the writer’s approach to a certain question in a well-thought out manner. They are supposed to be extremely well-structured in order to be taken seriously within the realm of academia.

 The essay could be either discussing a topic generally or taking a side in a particular argument. In any case, the structure has to be coherent and well-defined. 

First comes the introduction. Most of it gives the background on the topic and ‘introduces’ it to the reader - while employing devices to hook the reader, at the same time - and the end part gives away the thesis statement that provides the most important part of the essay: the claim. The claim is the main and bigger argument that’s given out in the form of a thesis statement; it precisely and succinctly mentions the main point that is being argued through an essay/research paper and all the sub-arguments present in the body paragraphs revolve around strengthening the main argument put forward in the thesis statement/claim.

An example of a thesis statement could be:

In order to understand the issue of the safety of children in a much better way it would be essential to discuss the lack of agency, presence of vulnerability in them and the rise in crime rate in the society at the same time

All the elements mentioned in the thesis statement would have to be discussed in detail during the upcoming body paragraphs in the right order.

After the introduction, the body paragraphs would have to be structured well too; the PEEL method would be an efficient way to approach this. According to this method, certains steps are followed to ensure that the paragraph is on point. The steps are clearly demonstrated by the acronym of PEEL:

P: Mention the point.

E: Add some evidence.

E: Add explanation.

L: Link it back to the main topic.

This acronym ensures that the writer does not stray away from the main point. The person is prevented from getting lost in unnecessary details that would further weaken the validity of the work, plus cost him/her a loss of points if the paper is to be graded.

There can be several multiple paragraphs and for each one this structure should be followed. For instance, if the topic is about the question of children’s safety, one of the body paragraphs could be arguing that since the crime rate has risen, children at all times should be escorted by their parents everywhere they go. Now, according to the PEEL method, this main point of the paragraph should be mentioned in the very first line of it (this first sentence is also known as the topic sentence), in order to ensure that the reader has a clear idea of what the writer has planned to discuss in that particular paragraph. Secondly, the writer should not expect the reader to simply take his/her word and believe it (that would account for a weak argument!). In order to strengthen the argument, the writer should instead give evidence immediately after the first sentence to ensure that the reader has the justification that boosts the argument’s validity. Any statistics, figures, percentages etc. could be mentioned to show that the crime rate is rising. Thirdly, the writer must explain the point in the light of the evidence further. And lastly, this entire theme in the body paragraph should be linked back to the main claim of the essay. This way, the writer would always stay in line with the main argument that has been initially made as a thesis statement.

So each sub-argument in each body paragraph should follow the same structure. So let’s suppose there are three sub-arguments supporting the main one, it’d follow somewhat like the following:

Argument 1 + Body Paragraph 1 (Peel structure)

Argument 2 + Body Paragraph 2 (Peel structure)

Argument 3 + Body Paragraph 3 (Peel structure)

The essay, as a whole, becomes a well-structured one if the paragraphs are structured using this method. Knowledge of the PEEL method not only makes one a better writer but also ensures that one succeeds academically. 

After the laying out arguments one should provide rebuttals to the supposed counter arguments against those. That’d strengthen the validity of the main argument. In conclusion the writer would have summed up everything largely said in the former part of the essay and establish that ‘for all these reasons’ the argument stands!

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