The ability to write an interesting and strong academic paper isan important skill for all university, high-school, and collegestudents. This skill will keep serving you if you want to go intoyour academic career or fields that involve analytical orpersuasive writing. To write a successful paper, you need tostart by following assignment instructions carefully. However,there are other basic things that should be done, including:
- Research a given subject and use only reputable sources;
- Organize your essay clearly and support all arguments withstrong evidence and examples;
- Check everything thoroughly and make the necessary edits.
Follow the necessary assignment instructions
Read the instructions given by teachers or professors carefullyand assess what should be done. Before you start working on anyacademic paper, you need to understand what it’s all about andlearn specific rules that must be followed. For example, a givenassignment may ask you to do the following:
- Answering a specific question;
- Demonstrating the ability to present strong arguments basedon your strong research;
- Comparing and contrasting two events, ideas, or artisticworks;
- Presenting your critical analysis of a given sources, such asa poem, book, work of art, etc.
Formatting and citation style requirements
Teachers usually have different expectations about formattingacademic paper, so make note of any specific requirements. Theyinclude such basic things as:
- Page numbers and line spacing;
- Font size and total essay length;
- Section headings and cover pages.
If you don’t see any formatting requirements on an assignmentsheet, ask teachers for clarifications or check your coursesyllabus.
Pay attention to basic citation style requirements because theymay vary based on your teacher’s preferences and subject matter.There are basic rules applied to all academic papers:
- Essays on social sciences use APA style citations;
- Papers om humanities, like history or literature, use Chicagoor MLA formatting guidelines;
- Writing assignments on health-related and medical subjectsuse AMA formatting;
- Other sciences may have their unique discipline-specificcitation styles.
Basic rules for the most popular formats are easy to find onlineand in style guides in libraries.
Narrowing down topics and asking for clarifications
If there’s something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to askteachers for clarifications. Ask any questions that you have inyour mind about academic papers because most instructors are gladto explain and offer their advice.
Unless you’re given quite a specific assignment, you need tochoose a subject to focus on, so be ready to narrow downinteresting topics. Before getting starting, determine the mainpoint of your academic paper and how you want to approach it.Pick the subject that really interests you and starts a uniquequestion that you will answer.
Research your essay topic
Finding reliable and good sources of information is the firststep in writing any academic paper. Use all available resourcesto create a bibliography, including digital scholarly options.You can start from your favorite search engine and type relatedkeywords. Take advantage of online scholarly databases by loggingin with your ID or accessing them through a library computer.Another effective method to building a good bibliography islooking at a reference list on the introduction or overview ofyour subject, including encyclopedia entries. Your teachers orlibrarians will be happy to recommend some useful sources too.
Choosing and reading appropriate sources critically
Search for reputable and updated sources of information for youracademic paper. Ideally, they must be published within the lastfew years. Peer-reviewed articles from academic journals,scholarly books, and articles from reliable news organizationsare widely acceptable options. However, you should avoiduser-edited websites and popular publications, like Wikipedia.Although such sources are not reliable and appropriate, they canbe good starting points for your research.
Just because facts and details come from reliable sources,including news articles, scholarly books, or peer-reviewedjournals, it doesn’t mean that they are correct. Read all of themcritically and answer the following questions:
- Where did authors get their information?
- Can they give credible sources?
- Do authors provide strong evidence to support arguments?
- Do they have any clear agendas or biases that affect theirinterpretation and presentation of information?
Primary and secondary sources
Use primary sources of information when applicable. They includeany type of direct or first-hand evidence concerning the chosentopic. Based on your subject matter, these sources can includeanything, like:
- Data from lab experiments;
- Video records of events;
- Historical documents, such as memoirs, works of art, andmonuments;
- Interviews with eyewitnesses.
When looking at such secondary sources of information as newsarticles and scholarly papers, you see the data filtered througha perspective of other people. Using primary data allows you tointerpret all facts yourself. Teachers usually specify ifstudents need to incorporate primary sources into their academicpapers.
How to evaluate online sources
The Internet offers a lot of useful information to students, butyou may find it difficult to separate high-quality sources fromthe bad ones. Evaluate all available online sources carefully andsearch for the ones published by reliable news organizations andon scholarly sites. When using them for academic papers, considerthe following questions:
- Can you see any credentials of authors?
- Are they qualified to write about a given subject?
- Do they state where they got their data?
- Can you verify their sources of information?
- Are articles written in an unbiased and objective manner?
- Are they written for the academic audience?
- Is their content educational?
Construct your academic papers
How to write an academic paper easily and fast? Creating anoutline is your ultimate answer to this question. Once your topicis narrowed down and your research is done, the next step isorganizing all interesting and original ideas. Make a list of themain points that you want to cover in your paper and determinethe right order to address them. Your essay outline should looksomething like that:
- Body with major points and supporting evidence in a fewparagraphs;
- Counter arguments and their refutation;
Your thesis is a significant part of the introduction, so stateit briefly and logically. This is where you need to explain themajor argument that you will make in an academic paper clearlyand concisely. This statement briefly outlines the evidence usedto support a major argument.
Present and supporting strong arguments
Each argument that you use in your essay should be presented indetail in the main body, which consists of a few paragraphs whereyou support a thesis. Be sure that each paragraph includes aclear topic sentence that states its major idea. Support everystatement that you make with strong evidence and examples. It’snot enough just to make a claim to write a successful paper, soyou need to provide readers with concrete evidence to make amajor argument convincing. Every paragraph that you write needsto include a few examples to support a particular topic sentence.
Write an introductory paragraph
Before presenting the main body of any academic paper, you needto offer a background on the chosen topic. Many writers agreethat it’s easier to write an introductory paragraph when the restof their essay is ready. Ensure that this section is not anexhaustive overview because you should include only the detailsthat help you set the stage and tell others the basics of youracademic paper. The introduction also needs to contain abreakdown of how you will approach a given topic and a clearsummary of your main point.
Use transitional sentences and cite all sources
Your paper will fee disjointed and choppy without specialtransitional phrases and sentences. Look for effective ways tosegue from one section to another in a logical and smooth manner.For instance, you can easily achieve this goal by starting everyparagraph with a short sentence that connects it with a topicsentence of the previous one. It’s also advisable to end everyparagraph with a logical sentence that links it to the next one.
Cite all sources correctly and clearly. When you present detailsor facts from other sources, be sure to identify them, no matterif they come as brief summaries or direct quotes. Meet therequirements of a specific style to format every citation(footnotes, inline references, and endnotes). Make your cleardistinction between quoting directly (using the exact words ofother people) and paraphrasing (putting the statements of otherauthors into your words).
- When paraphrasing, you need to rephrase a particular idea orstatement using your own words while identifying its source within-text citations or footnotes;
- When using short direct quotes, use specific quotation marksand identify their sources with in-text citations or footnotes;
- Remember that long block quotations are never put in quotes.
Address counterarguments successfully
When you find any interesting or strong counterarguments to athesis, you should acknowledge them in your academic papers.Provide clear evidence to refute them all successfully andaddress alternative interpretations of facts to show that youresearch the chosen topic carefully and present your case in abalanced and fair manner. If you succeed to refute majorcounterarguments convincingly, you’ll make your thesis morecompelling to the audience.
Write a concluding paragraph
Once your major arguments and strong proofs are presented, thenext step is linking everything together in a concise and briefsummary. State why you think that presented arguments support athesis in a confident and clear manner. Sum up a few major pointsand discoveries made in your academic paper. If you have finalthoughts or original comments, including useful ideas for anyfurther research and questions that must be answered, state themin the conclusion. Repeating what you wrote in the introductionis a poor idea. To write a concise concluding paragraph, useseveral sentences to reflect of the important of your argumentand its effect of future studies of the chosen subject.
Create your bibliography
A bibliography contains a full and brief list of each source thatyou make references to in academic papers. Its format may varybased on a particular citation style that you use, but you alwaysneed to include the following:
- Titles of works;
- Their authors;
- Publication places and dates;
How to polish academic papers
Once the first draft is ready, take a break and step away fromyour paper. Otherwise, it will be difficult to look at youracademic writing objectively. Coming back to your draft the nextday is a wise move because you will look at it with a new andfresh perspective.
Read over the first draft
When reading over your draft, pay attention to any evidentproblems with its organization, flow, and style. It’s quitehelpful to read your academic paper out loud to yourself. Youshould make notes of anything that seems to require improvements.As you keep reading the first draft, try to answer the followingquestions:
- Is your essay concise enough?
- Can you find any sentences, phrases, or words that should becut out?
- Is this paper well-organized?
- Do you see anything that can flow better after rearranging ina completely different order?
- Is your academic writing clear enough?
- Do all ideas make sense?
- Should transitions between paragraphs flow more smoothly?
You also need to check the tone and language of your essay. Asyou keep rereading it, determine if the language that you use issuitable and appropriate. Avoid any clichés, slang,colloquialisms, and words that sound overly judgmental andemotional. Your basic goal is keeping the tone and language ofyour academic paper objective and formal.
How to edit and proofread essays
Once you reread every sentence of your paper and make note of thenecessary changes to be made, you need to go through and revisethis draft. When this task is complete, reread it again and besure to save a copy of the first draft separately if you changeyour mind about any major revisions.
Proofreading is an important task of finding and correcting suchcommon academic writing issues as typos, formatting problems,punctuation flaws, spelling mistakes, and grammar errors. Tocomplete it successfully, you need to read your paper slowly andfix any problems that you find. As you already know, reading outloud is a very helpful tactic to catch any mistakes and flawsthat your eye may miss when reading essays silently.
Ask other people to check your writing, including relatives,friends, other students, etc. When revising your academic papers,another pair of eyes will always come in handy. That’s why it’sworth asking others to read over your final draft beforefinalizing and handing it in. They can find the mistakes that youmissed and point out the parts that should be reworded andclarified to improve your essay content. Finally, if you face anyhardships at any stage of this process, you can always count onprofessional help and academic writing services that are easilyaccessible online.
Before you write any academic paper, there are several importantconcepts that should be clearly understood. The first one statesthat academic writing is always done by scholars who need toread, think, and write about different ideas. Second, this typeof writing is devoted to the subjects and matters interesting tothe modern academic community. Look for the topics or questionsthat are appropriate and relevant to it. The next concept is thatacademic writing always presents informed arguments to readers.To construct it, you need to sort out everything you know andassess what you think about a given subject.
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