Thursday, 13 July 2017

Completing an Essay Introduction: The Overview Component

Completing an Essay Introduction: The Overview Component

Your overview is the final component of your introduction paragraph. The purpose of your overview is to give the reader an indication of the steps you will follow to support your thesis statement. This will list some of the evidence you will use, the type of studies you’ve done, the most important points of analysis or any other major items you’ll cover in your essay. After reading your overview, the reader should have a really clear idea of how you’ll reach your conclusion. If your thesis statement is your answer to the question that the topic is asking of you, then your overview will lay out the steps you’ll take to reach that answer.

You don’t have to list every piece of evidence or every discussion point in your overview; three to four of the most significant points will be enough for a standard-length college essay. For a dissertation or thesis, you should have about two to three paragraphs in your introduction mapping out the support for your thesis statement.

Try and list your essay overview in one to three sentences. Remember, this is merely a list of the support, and you won’t have to go into detail or explain any of it yet. You’re not required to give citations or offer any actual argumentation in your introduction; that all comes later in your body paragraphs. There are some resources on exactly how to write body paragraphs on the Academic Coaching website that can get you started once you reach that step.

Take a look at the following example which will demonstrate how to write a context component of your introduction. If you are given the topic of comparing the depictions of female characters in two superhero films, your thesis statement could look as follows:

In this essay, I will explain how Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s film Spider-Man is a much more helpless character than Jane Foster in Kenneth Branagh’s film Thor.

Now you have a clear thesis statement, and you know exactly what you’ll be doing in your essay, namely comparing Mary Jane Watson and Jane Foster and showing how Mary Jane is a more helpless character.

Your overview will list the evidence which you have for this point. What are the things in the film that make you think that Mary Jane is helpless? How do these things compare to Jane Foster? You need to give the reader an idea of the points you will cover. Your context could look as follows:

In support of this argument, I will demonstrate how Mary Jane is kidnapped and seems to resign to her fate, how Jane is enterprising and scientific, and how Thor is shown to be Jane’s equal whereas Mary Jane is little more than a love interest.

You’ve now shown the reader some of the main points you will make throughout your essay. When you’ve given context like this, it makes it much easier to plan your essay. Each of these points could be a separate paragraph of your essay, and you could then explain each of them in detail within those paragraphs. (For much more on essay planning, see the guide on planning an essay at the Academic Coaching website).

Giving three main points should be enough for your context section. The three different sections are all part of your introduction paragraph, and they should be combined to form a complete paragraph. In the final section of this guide, we’ll look at a few examples of what a complete introduction will look like, with context, a thesis statement and an overview.

Review Your Learning:
·         An overview is the final part of an introduction
·         The overview gives the main steps you will take in your essay to support your thesis statement
·         Your overview should be about one to three sentences for a standard college essay or research paper