Universität Bielefeld

Criteria for good essays

Distinction between an essay and a term paper:

Essays published in the sozusagen differ from term papers in several points:

  • For scientific essays it is important to briefly explain ideas and concepts. However, it is not necessary to provide a complete overview of the state of the art. Therefore, you should manage with a select amount of scientific literature.
  • To make your essays more accessible you should apply the concepts and theories to a specific example.
  • Assume that not every reader has prior sociological knowledge. If you use technical terms, please explain them in an understandable way.
  • You are not addressing an expert audience. Essays may be written in an interesting, amusing etc. manner.
  • Feel free to take a look at essays in previous sozusagen issues for inspiration.



Ideally, your article fulfils the following content criteria and is structured accordingly:


  • (empirical) hook, which clearly fits the question.
  • Clear sociologically grounded question or hypothesis, that either results from the hook or leads to it


Main part

  • Clear, comprehensible argumentation, which aims to answer the question (and not everything else at the same time). Common theme.
  • Limited to a few theories: one or two sociological concepts (which must be cited!) are usually enough to answer a question.
  • Illustrative examples.



  • Finish with a conclusion that links back to the question, gives a summarised answer or raises new questions.



  • Structure of the text: the question (according to the intended answers) is the basis for the structure of the text.It is the common theme.
  • Approximately 4-5 subheadings (please do not use “introduction”, “main part”, “conclusion”)  →  not too many subheadings, they should be based on the content and be well structured
  • Short and concise: Let your question and line of argumentation determine what is relevant and what is not.Try to avoid digressing from your question.