Sample essay 2
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Discuss the extent to which online users alter their identity
(Word limit: 2000 words)
Interpreting the assignment question:
Topic: online users alter their identity
Focus: the extent to which
This is quite a difficult question because it is asking you to examine how much (the extent to which) people alter their identity online, rather than highlighting the fact that people can change their identity – a potential trap for first-time essay writers.
Certainly, it is good at the beginning of the essay, whether in the introduction or the body, to acknowledge that people do alter their identity. However, to actually answer this question, you need to go beyond acknowledging the fact that people do change their identity, and discuss or debate the extent to which this happens and why.
It may be that identity alteration occurs in different contexts. For instance, it may be that different groups are more likely to alter their identity than other groups, who do not alter their identity online. Alternatively, some groups may alter their identity to a greater degree than other groups. Answering this essay question requires a thorough analysis and examination of the different variables or factors influencing people's identity construction online.
The following keywords and phrases were useful in searching for information for this assignment: identity, social identity, alter ego, persona, internet, online, chatrooms, IRC, multi-user dungeons, MUDs, computer-mediated communication.
In writing this essay, notes were constructed based on the ideas in books, book chapters, and journal articles surrounding the topic. These notes were then grouped together according to similar ideas and points of view to create topic units. From there, it became possible to identify a position or argument on which to base the essay.
The introductory paragraph was then written, with a thesis statement crafted which functioned to summarise the ideas in the essay. At this time, a concluding paragraph was also roughly put together. Then the paragraphs forming the body of the essay were polished up from their rough shape and were checked to ensure that they were in line with the thesis statement. Topic sentences were crafted for paragraphs in the body, along with summary sentences rounding off the paragraphs. Finally, the concluding paragraph was elaborated on from its original form, ensuring that it adequately summarised the whole essay, but also managed to move the essay forward to the future. In total, the essay (excluding the reference list) came to 1895 words, which fits easily within a 2000 word limit.