A Guide to Formulating a Well-Researched Essay

  Sunday, July 24, 2022

Being able to write an essay is an essential skill of every well-educated American. Unfortunately, not everyone can write essays and even fewer people know about the importance of critical thinking. A few weeks ago, a US-based company made the decision that they needed to bring on a new professional employee. Nearly 500 people applied. They provided each of the candidates a copy of a report the company issued the previous year and asked the candidate to write a 1-page summary. All had college degrees. Only one could come up with a thorough summary. That woman was hired.

The company got lucky this time. They are frequently disappointed by the applicants’ poor writing skills for positions at the company. Many applicants are graduates of top tier universities, MBA holders, and some even have PhDs. However, most people are terrible writers. It's not promising that they can't write. The logic behind most people’s writing narrative is difficult to follow. Perhaps an individual’s inability to write effectively could possibly be a silent witness to their incapacity of logical thought?

According to research by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a sizable percentage of community college professors do not require writing from their students since the students cannot do so, and the professors do not see themselves as writing instructors. It is understandable why hiring managers like us have difficulty locating candidates with adequate writing abilities. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (a.k.a. the Nation's Report Card) shows that writing proficiency is lacking in three-quarters of students in both the 8th and 12th grades. According to the data provided by the corporation, 40% of students who took the ACT writing exam in their senior year of high school in 2016 lacked the reading and writing abilities required to succeed in an English composition course at the college level. The problem of poor writing is nothing new. In 1874, more than half of the first-year class failed a written entrance exam at Harvard.

Education experts concur that instructors' lack of preparation in writing instruction and their frequent inadequacy as writers are the leading causes of the issue. A review of the course syllabi from 2,400 teacher preparation programs, according to Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, revealed no evidence that the teaching of writing was being covered in a widespread or systematic fashion.

We like to list the skills we want pupils to have in the twenty-first century. However, the ability to write well and think critically always comes out on top of the list because these abilities are crucial to many other cognitive activities employers value. However, little action is taken towards enhancing these abilities. Writing is a craft. Like any other craft, it can only be learned by doing it repeatedly at progressively harder levels while being closely supervised by an expert. If we don't ask our children to write, write a lot, and write well, how on earth are they supposed to learn to write?

Delayed or Instant Gratification?

According to 2012 research by Common Sense Media, more than 70% of elementary, middle, and high school instructors claim that media use has harmed students' attention spans, and more than 40% think it has hindered students' critical thinking ability. 

If you've ever taken a psychology course, there's a good chance you've heard of the marshmallow test. A child is given a choice between eating a single marshmallow right away or waiting to eat it and receiving a second marshmallow in this simple experiment first carried out in the 1960s. The outcomes of this test are amusing but highlight a fascinating aspect of human nature. We do not like waiting for things to happen – we desire instant gratification. There are numerous examples of how instant gratification rules most Americans lives. Our cuisine, entertainment, internet shopping (Amazon Prime), and even dating (Tinder) have all been designed to make getting literally anything on-demand.

The millennial generation (those born in the 1980s and 1990s) grew up with technology and are more susceptible to the allure of instant gratification than previous generations. According to a Pew Research Center survey of those aged 18 to 34, around 60% admitted that they keep their phones close by their beds so they won't miss calls, texts, or updates at odd hours. More than three-quarters of that age group also check their phones for messages or missed calls – even if they didn’t hear a ring or vibrate – addicted?

The generation born after 2000 is expected to have an even greater craving for instant gratification. According to a poll of parents conducted by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that offers advice and information about young people's media use, more than 70% of kids aged eight and under had a device for some media activity in 2013, up from 38% in 2011. These days, even infants and young children are allowed access to tablets and smartphones. For instance, a mobile device was utilized for media engagement by almost 38% of children under two years old, up from 10% two years prior.

Studies also show that people who are constantly connected are more irritable and stressed out. They crave continual stimulation, have less impulse control, and are more easily sidetracked. Children and teenagers are now receiving more diagnoses of attention deficit disorder, and older persons are also being prescribed ADD drugs more frequently. Due to students' shorter attention spans, some professors claim they seldom assign entire novels anymore and instead choose short stories, YouTube videos, journal articles, or specific chapters of a larger non-fiction novel.

According to 2012 research by Common Sense Media, more than 70% of elementary, middle, and high school instructors claim that media use has harmed students' attention spans, and more than 40% think it has hindered students' critical thinking ability. The student’s inability to engage critically with extensive amounts of subject matter also hinders their long-term comprehension of important subject matter. According to the teachers, video games and texting were the worst culprits (68 percent of responses).

So-called “multi-tasking” is the new norm although studies have consistently demonstrated that splintering one's focus tends to reduce rather than boost efficiency. Many students and workers believe using numerous devices simultaneously makes them happier and more productive. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more evident that multi-tasking is degrading the overall performance and productivity of younger Americans; of which most are too busy consuming information to think about creating something original.

The Importance of Thinking and Writing Logically

Writing essays encourages critical thinking -- helping you consider a problem and draw a conclusion on your own instead of parroting what others are saying on social media.

Being able to write an essay is not just necessary for English class. It's a beautiful way to hone your critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. Even if we don't write professionally, the act of logically outlining your thoughts and interweaving an essay is priceless to honing cognitive abilities. When bloggers remark about the benefits of being able to put their thoughts on paper, they are not exaggerating. Many accomplished writers attest to it as well.  

Writing essays encourages critical thinking -- helping you consider a problem and draw a conclusion on your own instead of parroting what others are saying on social media. It forces students to evaluate many arguments to develop better positions. Students get the ability to consider many viewpoints and perspectives while applying critical thinking. The comprehension of the content is shown in an essay. You gain a fundamental understanding of many sources on topics like history, language, and religion through essay writing. You also get to study various justifications and instances before making your own conclusion.

Jordan B. Peterson, author and clinical psychologist talks about the benefits of writing quite often. Essay writing is not just meant for high school students applying to university, it can be for everyone trying to learn something and/or identify new distinctions in existing subject matter. The benefits of essay writing can be reaped if you're a student, a teacher, a pastor at a church, an educator, a congregation, etc.

Here are a few benefits to writing essays:  

  • You are forced to organize your thoughts during the process of writing the essay. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions can often cloud our logic. The discipline of essay writing strengthens our ability to apply logic and override emotional reactions.
  • Writing an essay helps you develop literary style that can aid you in everyday speaking. The best writers are also effective orators.
  • Writing for an audience, even if it's just one person, forces you to consider things from their perspective. Once you’ve fully immersed yourself in the reader’s mind, empathy is supercharged and allows you to better understand your friends, your co-workers, or your neighbors.
  • Essays can help shape your ability to craft persuasive arguments. If you’re considering law school or a career in sales – honing this ability is important. By persuading people that your conclusions are sound with anecdotal proof points, you are more likely to close a deal or win a case.
  • It would be best if you always came up with new ideas when writing essays because you don't want to repeatedly write about the same subject. Your next logical step is to ask, "Where do you obtain these ideas?" Ideas are all around us! On the internet, in newspapers, magazines, movies, music, and books, as well as in the individuals you connect with. Once you begin writing essays regularly, you become aware of them.
  • When you write, you straddle the lines between public and private discourse. Inner speech refers to how you speak to yourself to modify your emotions and willpower and assess your activities. The word is conceived inside before being pronounced.
  • The ability to write essays is a way to reflect on, keep up with, and convey one's creative qualities in tone. Writing texts, including essays, has a therapeutic benefit as a method of self-expression. If done consistently, expressing thoughts via writing can enhance happiness, wellbeing, and stress resistance.
  • Maintaining mental functioning involves writing essays. The composition will assist you in maintaining your physical and mental fitness at any age because it is both mental and physical exercise.

How to Write an Awesome Essay

To write an essay, you must center and focus your mind on the core subject. You need to figure out the whys, the whos, and the whats of that essay. This guide will help you do that while also hinting to how you can use JournalOwl for each step of the way. If you’re an educator, JournalOwl will give you the tools to bring the excitement back to writing. But if you’re just an everyday person seeking to enhance your critical-thinking skills – we have thousands of writing challenges that you can participate in with others – of which most are free!

Find The Purpose

It is crucial to ensure your topic is compatible with a purpose. There are different types of essays that you can write based on your intended outcome. Your interest and passion in the subject matter will fuel your desire to write and edit well.

For example, an educator can ask their students to write an argumentative essay on a topic such as, “How has the rise of the Internet affected your educational goals?” The student can thoroughly research the material while formulating their own biased opinion on the topic.

"The primary reason to write an essay is so that the writer can formulate and organize an informed, coherent and sophisticated set of ideas about something important."                            - Jordan Peterson (the closest we have to a modern-day Socrates)

Spending time on concepts and subject matter that you have little interest in can be counterproductive unless it’s a requirement for a class. It's possible that you can peak or strengthen your interest in a subject by reading more about it or watching YouTube videos. If you frequently feel this way, you might want to consider whether you chose the wrong course of study. A logical argument must be presented in an essay in response to a stimulus or query, and it must convince the reader that your perspective is reasonable and believable.

The primary motivation of your essay writing is referred to as the purpose. It is the suggested justification and how you want your readers to interpret your writing. Any essay aims to educate, influence behavior, or persuade readers of a particular viewpoint. Additionally, it could aim to elicit a response or convey specific emotions. In other words, identify your purpose to writing the essay before starting. This is like answering a specific journal prompt. When answering a journal prompt question, you have a specific purpose to your writing.

Here are guidelines to follow while deciding an essay's purpose:

·    Consider the subject. Try to present a particular viewpoint that is sufficient to convince the reader. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, writing an essay might be difficult for you.

·    Cater to your audience. The backdrop of your work should be fully tailored to the needs of your audience. For instance, an essay written for students should differ from one written for union members. While writing an essay for academia, your style and tone might be different than writing an essay or memo to the union at an organization. 

·    Persuasive essays will require emotional language. Triggering emotional views of your reader in how you write can help persuade. Through this, you'll be able to engage the reader and convince them of your viewpoint.

·    Try to identify the source of the information you plan to provide. Find out the approach you plan to take when acquiring information. You may choose to rely on previously published literature rather than seek new material, or you may decide to conduct a poll.

Research Is Your Biggest Weapon

The following stage consists of the process of choosing the best reading material required to bring your essay to life. If you’re unsure of what you’re going to write about just yet, it would certainly be helpful to get done with this step before even selecting a topic. A general rule is to select well-researched, reputable articles or books as your sources. 

But of course, it is acceptable to begin with reading material from the most basic of sources, like Wikipedia, if you’re unaware of the kind of books or articles that might be valid. Your next step could be to then take a look at their reference lists for suggestions on what you can read after that. The goal is not to overwhelm yourself with the idea of research right from the beginning.

Being selective with the information you obtain from the internet should always be kept in mind, especially while writing on an academic or professional level. This is the era of information overload, where one cannot be certain of most things they read online, because most of the material that is readily available doesn’t have any factual backing to it. 

For instance, you can turn to Youtube Shorts for amusement and entertainment. But when it comes to gaining knowledge or learning any sorts of skills, these videos often fail to live up to the expectations. There is no harm in watching educational videos, of course. But by limiting our minds to consuming sixty-second-long content for a long time, we don’t only risk lowering our attention spans but also end up relying on such videos to get information that we end up believing to be true, without ever confirming their reliability. 

Spending your day perusing YouTube Shorts or TikTok satisfies your desire for instant gratification, but does it enable real comprehension of subject matter? 

Let’s talk about how that happens, though. You may or may not be aware of a neurotransmitter known as Dopamine, which is essentially released by the brain when you’re expecting a reward. When an individual comes to associate a certain activity with pleasure, dopamine levels can rise with mere anticipation of that activity. A dopamine release or rush can be triggered by your comfort food, your favorite hobby, being held by your favorite person, etc. 

And it is dopamine that encourages people with reinforcement of certain behaviors. Watching a sixty-second video that’s funny and makes you feel happy is intriguing because it has to be the quickest and easiest way of getting that dopamine rush, as opposed to finishing a well-informed essay. Our minds become accustomed to the instant gratification that comes with watching a YouTube Short. Swiping up every few seconds to get a fresh hit of dopamine only reinforces the behavior, keeping us hooked for more of the same thing. 

Does life really boil down to this?  

However, research shows that being overly reliant on instant gratification distracts us from giving more meaning to our lives and having longer-term goals. It ends up impacting our attention, and snatches away our ability to focus on important things for long. Having our needs gratified instantly rewires our brains and we lose our ability to be mindful of our feelings, actions, and of the world around us. 

The reason why so many mental health issues are prevalent in our society today has to do with the way we have everything available to us in the palm of our hand. Fast food, fast fashion, fast-paced trends and consumption of seconds long content… All of these things make us unable to acquire knowledge the way it deserves to be acquired; with time and patience. 

Let’s explore a few effective ways you can conduct research for your essay:

  1.  Avoid procrastination

It is important to allow yourself to take time for the study you’re conducting. There is no point waiting until the last minute, and then rushing your work because you’re running out of time. That will only refrain you from being efficient with your research. And any topic that isn’t researched properly, only gives out a low-quality final product.

2. Know that the amount of time required for research will vary, depending on a number of different factors. The knowledge you have on the topic prior to conducting your research definitely matters. So does your familiarity with the subject at hand. The amount of instructions you’ve been provided with also plays a paramount role. 

However, always give yourself more time than you think you’re going to need. You can be met with any obstacle during the process, and it is important that you have extra time if that happens.

3.   There’s a risk of falling down the wrong rabbit hole, if you don't fully comprehend what the requirement of the essay question is. To ensure you’re not wasting your time taking your research in the wrong direction, it becomes a necessity to read the question multiple times and make sense of it. 

It would also help if you were to highlight the focal points of the essay, but always make sure you’re paying enough attention to the entirety of the sentence. Because it may seem like the essay question is asking you to comment on the economic conditions of a country, there might be more to the question than just that. And if you devote your entire time being focused on an incomplete comprehension, you may be too fatigued to change the direction of your research after realizing your mistake.

The point is to be mindful of the guidelines you’re provided within the form of the question. Because how you conduct your research needs to be directly proportional to that. Take for instance an essay question where you’re being asked to comment on the current economic conditions of the US in comparison with the other superpowers. The question will guide you to research based on drawing comparisons. 

At the same time, if the word discuss is used in the essay question, your research would require focus on elaborating on opposing viewpoints and expressing your own based on what you understood from the research you conducted.

4.    It is necessary to brainstorm and bring forth your existing knowledge about the question before you begin your research. This will help by saving you some time and giving you clarity about the things you already know, as well as the gaps in your knowledge. That means you’ll be spared the time you would otherwise have to spend reading material that would only confirm what you know already. Now you can look very specifically for the things you’re not familiar with, filling in the gaps. 

5.    Gain fundamental knowledge of the subject before you begin analyzing complex material. This is necessary if you have spent the appropriate amount of time researching, and have not been able to come up with anything significant. 

It is certainly alright to not know enough on a particular topic, but admitting that you need to learn better than diving in headfirst, because you may not be able to comprehend the complexities of certain subjects without developing a baseline first. 

That would also become a barrier in the way of you making in-depth analyses of any of the material you come across, because your knowledge would have no foundation to stand on.

6.    In case you’ve been provided with a reading list, it would help to develop an organized process to extract key information from each item. Before beginning, ensure you have as many books and articles readily available as you can possibly read through. 

The decision on the amount of reading you can do should be a healthy balance between the amount of time you have and your capacity to read through material in the given time. Be realistic and try not to overburden yourself.

Make a plan to read through at least two to three different viewpoints, make comparisons and deduce your own opinions out of what you read. Assign a specific amount of time you’d give to each, and try to do them justice. Definitely make notes while you’re going through the material to avoid jumbling everything up due to information overload.

7.   Despite the fact that you have been advised to conduct a baseline research on a topic you have little knowledge about, be cautious and keep in mind that you cannot rely on every single source you come across on the internet.

Wikipedia, for example, may provide readers with basic information on nearly every single topic known to mankind, but information on it can easily be altered. Anybody can edit Wikipedia pages and add in false information, and someone who isn’t familiar with a particular topic would never find out.

Majority of the material online lacks academic research and is certainly not reliable enough to take at face value. Information also tends to be outdated, so being mindful of these factors is very important. 

It is unethical and not the best habit to get into, especially when there are trustworthy academic resources available on the internet. One simply has to look for specialized sites that function as virtual libraries.

Choosing The Right Technology

There’s no denying that we live in a technology driven world. The best trick for students to navigate in today’s academic setting is by utilizing technology to compliment their needs. There’s no doubt that students have access to endless, easily accessible resources, including writing and math apps, online dictionaries, schedulers, resources for admissions and scholarships, video courses, plagiarism detection software, and the list goes on. 

That certainly allows students to produce high quality content, based on extensive research readily available, a mere search away.

It is crucial to comprehend how the digital ecosystem influences how writing is taught on an academic level, with professors utilizing an endless supply of digital tools, to support their students with how they approach writing. Overall, AP and NWP teachers in the survey agree that using digital tools simplify teaching writing. They truly appreciate online collaborative platforms, which allow them to observe the thought processes of their students and evaluate and edit their work alongside them.

JournalOwl offers the right kind of technology, for students, their teachers, and just about anybody who wishes to enhance and polish their writing as well as critical thinking skills. 

We provide people with an online journaling platform which can be used in a number of ways. JournalClips can be used by professors, to help them segment Youtube videos into shorter bits. This tool can help create videos to aid students with the subject of their essay, and it can prove to be useful during a Sunday sermon, since members of the congregation can review the recorded clippings later. It also allows users to add stimulating questions for participants to come up with answers for, as they work their way through an idea, lecture, or service.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota evaluated listening skills of thousands of their enrolled students, as well as hundreds of professional experts. Despite all the efforts these people put in, it was revealed that an average individual can only remember half of what they hear after a short amount of time. 

Researchers at Florida and Michigan State Universities revealed that an average listener can remember merely 25% of what they hear, after about two months. The average attention span of a human being in 2022 is only 8.25 seconds. Losing focus has become a pandemic that we rarely ever notice about the world. The ability to maintain focus for longer periods of time and comprehend things in an effective way has become excessively difficult. 

JournalOwl has taken the initiative to help people improve their attention spans by keeping them focused when it comes to writing an effective essay.

Teachers as well as pastors - especially ones who deal with the issue of losing the attention of their students and members of their congregation - can certainly put our services to good use by making sure the writers give appropriate attention to each aspect of the subject at hand. 

Professors can always rely on JournalOwl to link videos for their students, to facilitate them as they learn how to structure their essay. These videos can certainly prove themselves useful while expressing a certain idea and/or writing a paragraph. Using this tool will help students enhance their skills, such as writing, problem solving, logical reasoning, as well as critical thinking.  

The Importance of an Outline

Creating an outline doesn’t have to be the most difficult part of writing an essay, but it certainly is the most crucial one. As the word itself suggests, an outline is the skeleton on which the meat of any essay is built upon. If you wish to create an essay successfully, writing an outline in the beginning is certainly not optional

An effective and helpful outline can be created using several online programs and tools.

Simply put, an outline is a concise, unambiguous road map for your piece. The content written in each and every paragraph is pre-decided and written as part of an outline. Quite honestly, an outline gives your writing a natural flow, while keeping it functionally structured. 

You can write an effective outline in the form of bullet points or figures, simply so that it is easier to refer back to them without getting mixed up. When you plan an essay, you create an outline. It helps writers connect their data naturally so that their thesis statement can be supported. 

And imagine writing an entire paragraph being focused on a single point, only to realize that it doesn’t have any connection with the previous one. It’s too chaotic, and that’s exactly what happens when a writer simply relies on their brain instead of writing down an effective outline. 

The following steps may be kept in mind while creating an outline:

  • Pick a format. Decide whether you would prefer to use bullet points, numbers, or any other format for your outline.
  • Examine the thesis. It is important to follow this step once you’ve chosen the format for your outline. The idea is to configure the theme for your essay and the subject matter for the body paragraphs..
  • Add specifics to each topic sentence. Once you have a baseline structure, you can begin adding the specifics. This information needs to be in congruence with the thesis statement. It helps if you add in a few transitional phrases as well.
  • While writing an argumentative essay, once you have a sufficient amount of material in your outline, it is time to add in additional points to counter your original argument.
  • An outline for a persuasive essay would include factual information that is likely to convince readers that what you’re telling them makes sense.
  • While writing an essay with a viewpoint, adding in points to elaborate your opinion and the reasons behind it has to be kept in mind.
  • The final paragraph of any effective essay would successfully develop a connection between all of the arguments made by an author, so that they can arrive at a logical conclusion. An outline is incomplete without a well-written conclusion.

Once you’re sure you have done justice to all of the above mentioned steps, you can conclude your outline and begin writing your essay. A well-defined outline will help you compose a solid first draft of your essay, ready for evaluation and editing. It is necessary to know that distinction, because an outline is not to be confused with a first draft of your work.  

Writing and Rewriting

It can be difficult for people to come up with a good opening statement for their essay. It certainly isn’t easy, staring at a blank page, thinking of something clever and interesting. But if you’ve done your outline justice, it can definitely help you narrow it down to whatever you’ve decided to write about first in that beautiful outline of yours. 

And don’t be afraid to write an unimpressive first draft. A first draft is a beginning, not the end. You can always turn it around by reviewing it thoroughly and giving it the adjustments and editing it requires.

Refer back to your outline, before beginning a new paragraph, and write ten to fifteen sentences per heading. It could be helpful to expand your outline's subdivisions and make changes to both the outline and the sentences by switching back and forth between them.

Your notes can also be your savior, so never underestimate the power of good notes. 

While writing the first draft, it helps if you avoid getting too worked up about sentence structure and the linguistics of it all. Save your energies for the second and maybe even third drafts.

Once done with the first draft, you need to force yourself to look in the mirror, by rewriting each sentence and phrasing it differently. You can always compare the two drafts. Try to read each draft out loud, because the best way to proofread any piece of writing is by saying the words you have written and seeing if they make sense. This is how you eliminate material that is redundant and master conciseness. 

An important next step would be to take notice of the order of occurrence of the paragraphs you have written, just as you did with the sentences added to each section. You might realize, at this point, that the order that you created of the subtopics in your outline is no longer accurate and that you need to make some rearrangements.

At this point, the document you have in front of you would look way more organized than the first draft that you created. A properly edited second draft would have suitable sources, more organized notes, a well-established thesis, and elegantly rewritten and rearranged sentences and sections. You may think that you’re done, but that is certainly not the case.

Peterson asserts:

"If you force yourself to reconstruct your argument from memory, you will likely improve it. Generally, when you remember something, you simplify it, while retaining most of what is important. Thus, your memory can serve as a filter, removing what is useless and preserving and organizing what is vital. What you are doing now is distilling what you have written to its essence."

A third draft is going to be even more polished than your second one. If you feel the need to create a masterpiece, you will certainly repeat the process of reevaluating and rewriting. This process doesn’t end until you can no longer find even a single portion that needs to be edited.

It helps if you have another set of eyes to review your essay and provide feedback. However, if you’d like to create the best version of your essay before anyone else reads it, you can also step away from your writing, and take a few days before you can be your own critic and reevaluate your work objectively.  

Final Draft Checklist

Once you’re absolutely sure that you’ve done everything you can with your piece, a highly advisable step would be to review the checklist provided below to highlight any potential issues that you may have overlooked. 

Remember that all students are urged to be done with their essay at least twelve hours or ideally a day before the final submission date. 

Some of the "items" on this checklist call for going over one’s essay several times:

1. It is highly necessary to provide citations for ideas that are not yours. Any professor would be required to do an assessment of how you use secondary material, express other people’s thoughts by adding your own experiences, and how you comprehend and communicate original thought. It is essential for you to distinguish between paraphrased thoughts and what is genuinely your perspective. The marker must also be able to tell if you are quoting from a source or paraphrasing it.

2. Always verify that your references are reliable and valid. And speaking of references, make sure you are rigorously adhering to your chosen referencing style, whether you decide to utilize Chicago or MLA (footnotes and bibliography).

3.  Proofread your work thoroughly, and ensure spell and grammar check. Remember to also look for typos and sentence structure errors.

4.  Again, there needs to be an emphasis on usage of correct grammar and punctuation. Read through the sentences, and think about if they make sense or not. If you’re not sure about a sentence, read it out loud and you will know. Any argument you make will appear significantly weaker if there are ambiguous logical connections between sentences. A general rule is, how do you expect a sentence to make sense to readers, if it doesn’t make sense to you.

5.  Work on enhancing clarity of paragraphs. Does any paragraph in your essay exceed a page in length? If so, it might need to be trimmed or reformulated. Long paragraphs usually read better when they are divided into shorter ones.

6. Examine the direction of your argument. Does your work flow naturally from one paragraph to another? Is the structure of your argument evident from the outset? Are you clear about whether you disagree with a source or an interpretation? Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions.

7.  Take your time to reread the introduction. An introduction is crucial because it is what sets the tone for the rest of your essay. Try to hit the sweet spot when it comes to the length of the introduction, and make sure that it invites the readers in and intrigues them to read further.

8. Reevaluate your conclusion. If an introduction sets the tone for any essay, a well-written conclusion can easily be termed as the pinnacle of your argument. This is where the entire document comes together. It should never be rushed or written in a way that makes the author seem like they’d had enough and wanted to simply be done with the piece.

Last Thoughts: Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

The idea of analysis paralysis is that there is a prevalence of overthinking and overanalyzing among individuals and groups alike when it comes to most situations, because of which, the process of decision making and moving forward with any number of ideas becomes paralyzed

This entails not being able to figure out a solution to any problem, or settling on a course of action within an appropriate amount of time.

This concept is also believed to be the same thing as the paradox of choice. One of the biggest reasons why this issue is so prevalent in our society today is because people are bombarded with an endless stream of information on the internet. 

The first step to beating analysis paralysis is being able to recognize and separate analysis paralysis from a healthy decision making process. Because once you recognize that you have an issue, only then can you move forward with finding a solution for yourself. The next thing to do is to figure out the cause which has led you to overanalyze a situation. 

It certainly helps if you try not to let analysis paralysis consume you, because that can always leave an impact on your mental health. Know that it is okay to take a step back from all of the information you’re being presented with, and trust your instincts to make the best decisions. 

There’s no doubt that freedom of expression on the internet does lead to development of tolerance and helps us open our minds up to viewpoints that deviate from ours. But the endless stream of data that we are often forced to consume simply by being online has made the process of making our minds up for even the simplest of things very difficult. 

What helps when it comes to overcoming analysis paralysis caused by this particular reason is being mindful of the information we’re allowing ourselves to be exposed to. We must instinctively be more in control of it and thoroughly scrutinize the information we are being presented with.

The freedom for anyone and everyone to speak their mind, share their opinions and present them as facts leads to people consuming falsified information, which directly caters to cognitive biases. The theory that suggests this phenomenon was given by Vosoughi and his colleagues. These people looked at the spread of over 125,000 news pieces on Twitter between 2006 and 2017, and concluded that fake news spread "farther, faster, deeper, and broader" than real, factual news.

The data they reviewed comprises a whopping 126,000 stories retweeted more than 4.5 million times by 3 million users. And in order to confirm their theory, they used six separate fact-checking platforms to determine whether a piece of information was accurate or not.

The effects were more pronounced for false political news as compared to that of terrorism, natural disasters, scientific discoveries, urban legends, or even financial data. At the same time, it was evident that false news about politics was disseminated much faster than factual information, no matter what category.

This brings us to another interesting point. The ‘want’ to be entertained has become more intense than the need to gain knowledge, absorb useful information, and contemplate complex questions about life and all things it entails. 

This constant urge to have entertainment in our lives prevents us from indulging in the art of critical thinking. JournalOwl aims to protect the new generation of students and scholars of all ages from this pandemic of consistently lowering attention spans and inability to focus, by helping develop the skills they require to dive into the deepest ends of subjects and write extensive and compelling essays about them. 

We are hopeful that by using the proper methodology, along with this guide and the other services we provide, people will be able to acquire knowledge through effective and appropriate sources, which would aid them in creating some of the most inspiring pieces of writing.

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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