An essay reflects the work and expresses the views of a single individual or group on a topic. Essays are traditionally written pieces. However video, audio, and other presentations are possible. Good essays begin with research, offer verifiability by citing reliable sources, and give reliable information. Essays are one of many resource types at Wikiversity. An essay may be one or more of the following:
- a piece of writing set as an assignment in a course (or "term paper")
- informal or insufficient work than is normal for a formal academic paper (e.g, may contain a lot of personal opinions)
- a piece of writing where the author simply prefers the designation "essay"
- Papers: a paper is an academic article or academic paper (or draft thereof) which has been published or is being drafted on Wikiversity. A paper typically reflects the work and views of a single individual or of a closed group of authors. A paper may be commented on and discussed by any Wikiversity contributor.
- Blogs: a blog, like a paper, reflects the work and views of a single individual and may be commented on and discussed by any Wikiversity contributor. However the blog is usually in the personal User namespace of a particular registered Wikiversity user and conforms to the style of a "blog" (e.g. shorter; lower level of formality; stronger opinions; somewhat journalistic).
- Articles: this term is used on Wikiversity in the sense of "encyclopedia article". The "academic article" is known as a paper (or academic paper) on Wikiversity. An article must adhere to the neutral point of view and is a collaborative effort, just as Wikipedia articles are.
An essay is a less formal kind of paper, so guidelines are fewer. For examples of a set of essays (or term papers), please refer to:
- The Design for the Environment project, a collection of about 28 essays created by about 100 to 150 students of the University of Toronto in Spring 2008. The students were working in teams, under the supervision of their professor, who was also a Wikiversity user.
- Social psychology (psychology) is an undergraduate unit at the University of Canberra, Australia, with about 80 students are each writing essays, July to October, 2008, under the supervision of their lecturer, a Wikiversity user/custodian. For more information, see Social psychology (psychology)/Assessment/Essay.
- Keep the page title short. If your essay has a longer title (e.g. because your professor gave you a longer one), then put the longer title at the top of the page, but don't use it for the official title of the page on Wikiversity.
- The author(s) should always be clearly identified at the top.
- The author(s) should provide a means to be contacted - e.g. Wikiversity username given allows contact through user's discussion page.
- Either: the resource should very clearly be of a type in which readers would expect to find views, opinions or research findings which have not achieved a wide consensus (e.g. in an academic field)
- Or: the resource should be clearly tagged at the top with a tag which warns readers that the resource may contain views, opinions or research findings which have not achieved a wide consensus.
- If the resource contains multiple pages, the points above (1-4) should be repeated on every page of the resource.
- Wikiversity contributors not named as an author should, as a matter of civility, refrain from editing the resource itself. However it should be possible for all Wikiversity contributors to comment and discuss the piece of writing on the page itself (rather than resorting to the talk page). A discussion section at the bottom of the page is recommended. This is effectively an exchange for other contributors refraining from editing the authored section of the resource. Comments and discussions should be signed in the normal wiki manner.
An essay may well be part of a series of related resources on Wikiversity. For example, there might be related course and assignment pages, and there might be essays written as part of the same course by fellow students. Try to link these resources together - e.g. use hyperlinks in the page, create a special category for all the related pages, and assign the essays to this common category.
Wikipedia has a resource type known as "essays", defined as "pages that typically address some aspect of creating and managing an online encyclopedia". They contain opinions/advice/suggestions which fall short of guidelines or proposed policies. Wikipedia has over 600 essays of this type, all located in the Wikipedia namespace. See w:Wikipedia:essays. Among Wikimedia projects, the word "essay" has therefore come to be used (occasionally) as a derogatory term for a proposal which has no hope of achieving consensus.
Wikipedia also has a category for essays (w:Category:essays), which lists encyclopedia articles about famous essays of the past.