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Hello,

Here is an essay (GRE Issue task) on the following topic:

"In our time, specialists of all kinds are highly overrated. We need more generalists – people who can provide broad perspectives."

I'd be much appreciated if you overviewed any part of these essay and provide me with a piece of advice on how to improve it. Thanks in advance.

Essay:

There are a lot of professions, and within each profession some members may be called generalists and some other – specialists. Within a single study or work field a generalist is a person whose knowledge coverage is "horizontal", that is, a person is experienced in most of the field themes, but not too deep in each theme. A specialist is a person, whose knowledge coverage is "vertical", that is, a person is not necessarily familiar with all directions is a specified field, but instead one is highly experienced in a few of them. The topic claims specialists are currently highly overrated relatively to generalists, and implies that it is not right. To decide who is more values for society, it is necessary to compare generalists' and specialists' functions in a real-world professional spheres.

The first example is a doctor's profession. In a hospital, a generalist is a therapist, who is experienced in most kinds of human diseases and is able to consult on any problem, though not necessarily fully enough to resolve a problem completely without resorting to help of a specialist. Therapists may fully resolve not too difficult cases of general diseases. For instance, an uncomplicated flu may be cured by a therapist. However, even the simplest disease may progress in an unusual way – the primary disease may cause collateral diseases, like angina may cause problems with the heart. In this case some specialists should join the treatment process, since the heart work peculiarities are beyond the therapist's competence. In the above-mentioned example, a cardiologist should scan the patients heart and suggest appropriate moves. In some cases, therapists simply cannot do absolutely anything, but a specialist of a more narrow field is required. For example, if a person broke an arm, then a surgeon should work with this person, while a therapist is not able to help this person anyhow.

Another generalist-specialist separation may be observed in academia. In an elementary school, there are teachers who teach a little bit of everything on the elementary level – reading, writing, speaking properly, doing basic arithmetics, and so forth. These teachers are generalists, they are undoubtedly useful and they are in demand. However, not each of them is able to teach more narrow courses where more deep knowledge of a subject is required. Not every elementary school teacher is able to drive a class of higher mathematics. These separation in academia may be extended to the university level. At university, the most of professional staff are specialists, but not generalists. Each of professors is a professional in a particular field doing some scientific research in it. If one were a generalist, it would be quite a problem to invent something new in a certain area. Major discoveries being made near the utmost leaves of a knowledge tree, but not near its roots, where everything have already been discovered decades or even hundreds of years ago. Of course, its possible to make a major breakthrough in a foundation of a certain field, but it is more likely to happen in some young and undeveloped spheres of science, like genetics, but not in classical sciences like physics or mathematics.

Almost in any sphere there is a separation onto generalists and specialists, and both of these professionals are working towards making benefits for society. However, they indeed are rated differently, that is specialists are rated as more valuable for society if measure it by the wage level. That is probably because it is more difficult to become a specialist: it will take months of study to upgrade from an elementary school teacher to a high school subject teacher and years for a therapist to become a surgeon or for a high-school teacher to become a solid-state physics professor. That is why there are more generalists than specialists. Concerning the question whether the specialists are overrated, it depends on a particular sphere and context. If talk about science, it is difficult to overrate specialists; specialists are the only kind of professionals who make advances in science. Meanwhile, in medicine, generalists, that are therapists, may be more important since people more frequently get flu than brake their limbs, so there is much more work for therapists. The advantages of generalists are that they are more flexible, that is, able to work on quite diverse tasks and that it is more easy, quick, and cheap to become a generalist. The disadvantage is that generalists are not able to tackle with too specific tasks. Advantages of specialists are that they are able to solve very specific tasks and they are able to move science forward. The disadvantage of specialists is that their skills are too narrow, so that they will not be able to solve "simple" problems out of their competence area. Who is more valued, that is who should be rated more highly, depends on society's requirements in a particular region and time.

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Hi Victor,

As a general rule, my advice is to avoid the use of dashes in formal writing.

Some people here may disagree with me.

Clive

My a
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Hello Clive,

Thanks for comments.

I've used the dash in this essay three times. I can obviate the last two dashes by replacing them with other punctuation constructions:

> "However, even the simplest disease may progress in an unusual way. The primary
> disease may cause..."

> "... there are teachers who teach a little bit of everything on the elementary level: reading,
> writing, speaking properly, doing basic arithmetics, and so forth."

But avoiding the first dash will result in an undesirable repetition:

> "... within each profession some members may be called generalists and some other

> may be called specialists."

Can't we use the dash to avoid such repetitions? Or had it be better to completely rewrite a sentence avoiding such an opposition at all?

And by the way, is it a good style to use a (semi)colon in an essay?

Thanks in advance.

--

Victor
Hi Victor,

But avoiding the first dash will result in an undesirable repetition:

> "... within each profession some members may be called generalists and some other

> may be called specialists."

You can write it thus.

There are a lot of professions, and within each profession some members may be called generalists and others, specialists.

I would argue that dashes can always be avoided, by giving a little thought to how to express the thought.

To be truthful, I wouldn't say a few dashes constitute a sin. But many people who start using dashes end up using a lot.



Can't we use the dash to avoid such repetitions? Or had it be better to completely rewrite a sentence avoiding such an opposition at all?

And by the way, is it a good style to use a (semi)colon in an essay?

Colons are fine, no problem. Although 100 in an essay would be very odd.

A semi-colon can be very stylish. It says to the reader, 'Look closely at this sentence, I'm telling you something special'. The problem is, again, that many people tend to fill their writing with semi-colons.

I never use one. Perhaps that means I have not yet encountered a sentence that seems special enough to me. Emotion: smile

Plenty of people on the Forum will disagree with me for being so strongly against semi-colons.

Clive
I've got your point. As for me, I don't see the semi-colon as denoting something unusually special. It simply delimits two clauses significantly close in meaning, but not independent enough to be separated by the full stop into two different sentences. Though, it's subjectively.
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Hi,

Yes, you can argue that way. Many people would agree with you.

Here's how I see it.

As you say, it's subjective, so it depends on what you mean by 'significantly close in meaniing'. You can argue that just about everything you say in a paragraph is significantly close in meaning.

You could write eg 'I took the garbage out; the can was full'. Yet to me, such a sentence seems ridiculous. I feel that the meaning of the sentence should be of some importance, and that understanding the closeness of the connection should require at least some degree of subtle thought on the part of the reader. eg He loved her with all his heart; she died young'. Here, the writer is saying to the reader, 'Think about this for a moment. Think of the sadness. Think of the lost years of happiness'.

Best wishes, Clive