How to Write a Research Essay on Applied Anthropology in Real Life

Writing guide
Posted on December 14, 2015

Writing a research essay is a more scientific rather than creative task, one which you will be assigned many times throughout the duration of your academic career. This type of writing is one which forces you to focus your efforts on the following:

1) Narrow down a Topic

The topic you select has to be something that you can cover in the span of pages or word count allotted to you. This is one of the most challenging items for students, as often the first topic selected is too broad. You cannot, for example, write about “the differences between Hmong and western medicine” in five pages; people have written books hundreds and thousands of pages in length and still not covered everything in this topic. You would instead, have to narrow it down to one aspect of medicine, or one area of conflict, such as the treatment of an infection with antibiotics versus herbal teas, or how effective some herbal remedies are to traditional ailments, even though they are not always sponsored by western doctors.

Note: You should search for something that is interesting to you if you can. The more passionate you are about the topic, the more that passion will flow through your work and the more your teacher will notice. Scan the topics we suggest, maybe you’ll find something you’ll write about.

2) Research Your Topic

The research here is one of the most important components. Any claim you make needs to be backed by scientific evidence or fact of some kind. This is often what makes such a piece stand out compared to more creative writing tasks where you can make your personal claims without substantiation. If you make the claim that a specific culture cannot tolerate the medicinal treatment of another culture, the Hmong and Western medicine for example, you need to provide facts to prove this (check out interesting facts on applied anthropology that can become handy while writing a research essay). Your word is insufficient. You must provide:

  • stories from ethnographic studies or interviews
  • quotes from people who are viable interviewees (such as the Hmong people who have avoided or sought medical treatment, western doctors who have provided treatment, or cultural advisors/interpreters who have worked with such cases)
  • statistics such as the high statistical prevalence of the Hmong women visiting ER’s to deliver babies compared to the low statistical prevalence of the Hmong women seeking pre-natal care during their pregnancy

For each claim you make, you must present support so that the reader can side with your argument.

3) Draft Your Paper

Once you have the key elements you want to present in the form of an outline, you should write out the evidence for each of your claims. You want a well-balanced paper, so you should have roughly equal facts for each claim you make. Once this is one, it is time to start writing. The more comprehensive your outline is, the easier the first draft will be. Make sure you properly cite all of your sources including the page number in accordance with the format requirements laid out by your teacher. This should be explained in the assignment, and if not, you can always ask them.

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