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How to Write an Academic Paper?

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Make ambivalence your clear rhetorical stance. Finally, don't write simply to please your professor. Though some professors find it flattering to discover that all of their students share their positions on a subject, most of us are hoping that your argument will engage us by telling us something new about your topic - even if that "something new" is simply a fresh emphasis on a minor detail.

Moreover, it is impossible for you to replicate the "ideal paper" that exists in your professor's head. When you try, you risk having your analysis compared to your professor's.

Do you really want that to happen? In high school you might have been taught various strategies for structuring your papers. Some of you might have been raised on the five paragraph theme, in which you introduce your topic, come up with three supporting points, and then conclude by repeating what you've already said.

Others of you might have been told that the best structure for a paper is the hour-glass model, in which you begin with a general statement, make observations that are increasingly specific, and then conclude with a statement that is once again general. When you are writing papers in college, you will require structures that will support ideas that are more complex than the ones you considered in high school.

Your professors might offer you several models for structuring your paper. They might tell you to order your information chronologically or spatially, depending on whether you are writing a paper for a history class or a course in art history. Or they may provide you with different models for argument: No prefab model exists that will provide adequate structure for the academic argument.

For more detailed advice on various ways to structure your paper, see Writing: Considering Structure and Organization.

When creating an informed argument, you will want to rely on several organizational strategies, but you will want to keep some general advice in mind. Your introduction should accomplish two things: Often writers will do the latter before they do the former. That is, they will begin by summarizing what other scholars have said about their topic, and then they will declare what they are adding to the conversation. Even when your paper is not a research paper you will be expected to introduce your argument as if into a larger conversation.

For more specific advice on writing a good introduction, see Introductions and Conclusions. Probably you were taught in high school that every paper must have a declared thesis, and that this sentence should appear at the end of the introduction.

While this advice is sound, a thesis is sometimes implied rather than declared in a text, and it can appear almost anywhere - if the writer is skillful. Because your thesis is arguably the most important sentence in your paper, you will want to read more about it in Developing Your Thesis.

Because every thesis presents an arguable point, you as a writer are obligated to acknowledge in your paper the other side s of an argument. Consider what your opponents might say against your argument.

Then determine where and how you want to deal with the opposition. Do you want to dismiss the opposition in the first paragraph? Do you want to list each opposing argument and rebut them one by one?

Your decisions will determine how you structure your paper. Every convincing argument must have support. Your argument's support will be organized in your paper's paragraphs. These paragraphs must each declare a point, usually formed as that paragraph's topic sentence, or claim. A topic sentence or claim is like a thesis sentence - except that instead of announcing the argument of the entire paper, it announces the argument of that particular paragraph.

In this way, the topic sentence controls the paper's evidence. The topic sentence is more flexible than the thesis in that it can more readily appear in different places within the paragraph.

Most often, however, it appears at or near the beginning. For more information on structuring paragraphs, see Writing: Writing a good conclusion is difficult. You will want to sum up, but you will want to do more than say what you have already said. You will want to leave the reader with something to think about, but you will want to avoid preaching.

You might want to point to a new idea or question, but you risk confusing the reader by introducing something that he finds irrelevant. Writing conclusions is, in part, a matter of finding the proper balance. For more instruction on how to write a good conclusion, see Introductions and Conclusions. You need to be analytical. You need to create an informed argument. You need to consider your relationship to your topic and to your reader.

But what about the matter of finding an appropriate academic tone and style? The tone and style of academic writing might at first seem intimidating. But they needn't be. Professors want students to write clearly and intelligently on matters that they, the students, care about. What professors DON'T want is imitation scholarship - that is, exalted gibberish that no one cares about.

If the student didn't care to write the paper, the professor probably won't care to read it. The tone of an academic paper, then, must be inviting to the reader, even while it maintains an appropriate academic style. Understand that you are writing to a person who is delighted when you make your point clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Understand, too, that she is less delighted when you have inflated your prose, pumped up your page count, or tried to impress her by using terms that you didn't take the time to understand.

In short, then, good academic writing follows the rules of good writing. If you'd like to know more about how to improve your academic style, please see Attending to Style , elsewhere in this Web site.

But before you do, consider some of the following tips, designed to make the process of writing an academic paper go more smoothly:. Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. Learn more about our research. What is an Academic Paper? So how does a student make a successful transition from high school to college? Constructing An Informed Argument What You Know When you sit down to write an academic paper, you'll first want to consider what you know about your topic.

When you sit down to write an academic paper, ask yourself these questions: What do I know about my topic? Can I answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, how? What do I know about the context of my topic? What historical or cultural influences do I know about that might be important to my topic?

Does my topic belong to any particular genre or category of topics? What do I know about this genre? What seems important to me about this topic? If I were to summarize what I know about this topic, what points would I focus on?

What points seem less important? Why do I think so? How does this topic relate to other things that I know? What do I know about the topic that might help my reader to understand it in new ways? What do I need to know? How can I find out more? What You Think You'll discover as you consider the questions listed above that you are moving beyond what you know about a topic and are beginning to consider what you think.

How does one move from personal response to analytical writing? Choosing An Appropriate Topic Many students writing in college have trouble figuring out what constitutes an appropriate topic. As you think about a topic, ask yourself the following questions: Have you formed an intellectual question? In other words, have you constructed a question that will require a complex, thoughtful answer? Is the question provocative? Will you be able to answer this question adequately in a few pages?

Or is the question impossibly broad? If the question seems broad, how might you narrow it? Does your question address both text and context? In other words, have you considered the historical and cultural circumstances that influenced this text?

Have you considered what other scholars have said about it? Will your reader care about this question? Or will she say, "So what? Finding a Rhetorical Stance When writing an academic paper, you must not only consider what you want to say, you must also consider to whom you are saying it. Consider Your Position Let's first consider your relationship to your topic. Consider Your Audience Your position on a topic does not by itself determine your rhetorical stance.

Considering Structure In high school you might have been taught various strategies for structuring your papers. The Other Side s: But before you do, consider some of the following tips, designed to make the process of writing an academic paper go more smoothly: Rely on evidence over feeling. You may be very passionate about a subject, but that's no excuse to allow rhetoric alone to carry the ball.

Even if you have constructed some very pretty phrases to argue against genetic engineering, they won't mean much to your professor unless you back those pretty phrases with facts. Watch your personal pronouns. Students often wonder if it's OK to use the pronouns "I" and "you" in a paper. In fact, it is OK - provided you use them understanding their effect.

For example, overusing the "I" might make the reader feel that your paper is overly subjective. In fact, when a writer too often invokes himself in the first person, he may be doing so to avoid offering proof: I don't have to defend it.

As to using the pronoun "you": Do you really want to aim a remark directly at the reader? Doing so draws the reader closer to the text and invites a more subjective and sometimes more intensely critical response. If this kind of response is what you want, then by all means employ the "you. When in doubt, ask. Watch your gendered pronouns.

When you write, you'll want to make sure that you don't do anything to make your readers feel excluded. If you use "he" and "him" all the time, you are excluding half of your potential readership. However, you might solve the problem as we have done in this document: Other writers advocate always using "she" instead of "he" as a way of acknowledging a long-standing exclusion of women from texts. Whatever decision you make in the end, be sensitive to its effect on your readers.

Be aware of discipline-specific differences. Each of the academic disciplines has its own way of constructing knowledge, of organizing that knowledge, of using evidence, and of communicating within the field. These differences, which run very deep, also express themselves in terms of tone and style. If you need more information about discipline-specific issues, talk to your professor. Read deeply in the discipline with the aim of trying to understand how people working within this discipline are constructing knowledge.

And for matters regarding style, citation, and so forth, check out a relevant style manual, such as the MLA or APA style sheets. No matter what audience you're writing for, you'll want to produce text that is error-free.

Errors in grammar and style slow your reader down. Sometimes they even obscure your meaning. Always proofread your text before passing it on to your reader. If you find that you are making a lot of errors and want help with grammar and style, consult a handbook or see Attending to Grammar and Attending to Style elsewhere in this Web site.

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Academic writing is devoted to topics and questions that are of interest to the academic community. When you write an academic paper, you must first try to find a topic or a question that is relevant and appropriate - not only to you, but to the academic community of which you are now a part.

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Though it may seem excessive to write almost 4, words on how to write better papers, the reality is that writing papers in college (and the sort of writing you will do for the rest of your life) is not the same as you were asked to do in high school.

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Methods of study for conducting academic research and writing an academic paper might differ according to the subject and level of study but the basic structure of academic papers, following basic characteristics of academic writing remains more . Writing an Academic Paper Listed below are the steps required to write an academic paper. These steps do not have to be done in the order listed; in fact, they may be repeated many times during the process. Repeating steps most often happens during the research, reading, and first draft stage of writing. Writing and learning is a fluid.

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The purpose of this guide is to help you understand how to write a research paper, term paper, thesis or similar academic papers. Student Guide to Writing. a High-Quality Academic Paper. Follow these guidelines when writing academic papers, including your Trident University Case and SLP assignments. An effective academic writing style is an essential part of a university.