Discursive Essay

A discursive essay is a type of essay that discusses a problem, a controversy, or a recent issue. This essay may be informal or formal, but is most often written in a formal manner. Many universities and classes require applicants and students to write this type of essay to examine and evaluate their skills in writing, thought formation, and analysis.

One of the distinguishing elements of a discursive essay is its objectivity. It is important that the writer present the problem in an unbiased manner, discussing all points of argument thoroughly and carefully. If instructions allow the writer to side with one point, he should first present all sides before choosing one. To make the essay more objective, it is recommended that the essay be written in a third-person perspective and avoid using first-person phrases such as “in my opinion,” “I believe,” and “I fully support.” In this way, a discursive essay is different from an argumentative essay, as the latter only presents one side of the issue and discusses details for or against that side.

An effective discursive essay often, if not always, starts with a sound introduction that clearly establishes what the issue is about. It can also discuss the issue’s relevance and context to other current issues. The gist of the issue should not go beyond one paragraph, which can be composed, generally, of three to six sentences.

The succeeding paragraphs after the introduction are always allotted for the different points and arguments within the issue. These paragraphs should also be arranged in a logical and organized manner. For example, a writer can discuss first all the positive points of the issue before citing the negative points, instead of jumping from one positive argument to a negative one.

Ideally, each main point should be discussed in just one paragraph. The writer can start the paragraph with a concise, to-the-point statement before expounding into details and presenting other lines of reasoning. To make an argument more credible, the paragraphs can also include further examples, situational cases, and even quotations from reliable sources and important people regarding the issue. After finishing one point, the writer should start with another paragraph, using proper conjunctions and connective phrases to make for a smooth transition.

A discursive essay should also end with a conclusion, or a paragraph that summarizes the main elements and arguments within the issue. If allowed, the writer can also state his position regarding the issue, but should still be unbiased. He can also give a “forecast” of what can or cannot happen, given the information and details presented. The conclusion should not include new ideas that are not expounded before. A discursive essay should not only discuss a certain subject matter, but should also invoke readers to create further discussions.

Difference Between Discursive Essay & Argumentative:

Discursive Purpose
The goal of a discursive essay is to present a balanced and objective examination of a subject. Like an argumentative essay, the topic may be controversial, but the discursive essay attempts to present a much more balanced discussion of the issue. It does not, however, have to be expressly neutral. The essay should present both sides of the discussion, supported by facts and research. The author may draw tentative conclusions about the subject and suggest them to the reader.

Discursive Style
The discursive style is written in a more formal and impersonal style than other essays. It begins with a introduction to the topic. Each issue should be discussed in a separate paragraph and each paragraph should begin with a strong topic sentence. The essay will typically alternate a paragraph of point followed by a paragraph of counterpoint. Discursive essays often have transitional wording leading into the next paragraph. The writer may choose to either express a low-key opinion in the final paragraph or leave readers to draw their own conclusions.

Argumentative Purpose
The writer of an argumentative essay attempts to clearly present a strong position on a particular topic. Its purpose is to both educate and persuade the reader on a particular point of view. In this regard it is similar to a persuasive essay, but generally presents its view in a stronger, perhaps more controversial, way. It may target an audience that is more resistant to its viewpoint or message.

Argumentative Style
Argumentative essays follow a general format. The writer states an initial thesis that contains the point of view for which the author is arguing. The body generally presents both sides of the argument, although each con is refuted in turn. The author may first present the pros of the argument, then offer the cons and refutation later in one paragraph. Or, each con may be both presented and refuted in an individual paragraph. The author presents the desired conclusion in the final paragraph.