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Study Skills Necessary to Produce an Academic Opinion

An academic opinion is the conclusion you come to when you have evaluated all the evidence you were given in a lecture or read about or researched. It doesn’t come ‘off the top of your head’. You reason and support your conclusion by evidence.

However, coming to a reasoned conclusion doesn’t mean having to support or choose one claim rather than another. You can have an open opinion, recognizing merits and faults in more than one argument or equally, feel that none of the solutions really addresses a particular problem.

From the 1940s to the present, there’s been a relatively and comparatively high number of teenage pregnancies in the UK and US. Strategies to reduce the number of pregnancies, such as sex education, repression of sex and sex education, access to contraception and abortion at different periods, have all been tried and produced similar negative results. The number of births continues to rise.

In June 2008 (BBC 1. Breakfast news), 17 girls aged 16 and under from one school in Massachusetts were all found to be pregnant, raising suspicions of a pregnancy pact and that there may be – in this case – strong social factors influencing young pregnant girls.

Having an academic opinion can also mean that you believe, for example that:

  • Some evidence is more relevant, more clear, more tangible than other evidence.

  • Some evidence is only useful in a supporting role.

  • All the appropriate research has not yet been carried out.

  • The most useful evidence is not available.

If you can suggest different methods, different questions to ask, different groups of people to research (in age, gender, age, occupation, location), different places and times, at the end of an essay or presentation or seminar, this is where your academic opinion counts most. Your conclusion is the outcome, the culmination of your reflection, analysis and evaluation of what you’ve read, been taught or prepared as assessed work.

Just a few lines of suggestion at the end of the conclusion of an essay indicates that the process of learning how to handle information has taken place. It should be there. Too often people have done all the hard work, but don’t put their reasoned suggestion, the outcome of their academic opinion, at the end of an essay as they would when speaking.

That’s where the marker looks first, before they read anything else, to see what’s been learned. Make a good impression in your conclusion, and the rest is relatively easy.

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