General Tips on Academic Writing
- When it comes to academic writing, and in particular writing a good essay, the writer’s miscellaneous and unconnected observations about their topic is not sufficient. There should be a sound argument and the writing should address one or more questions. The writer should attempt to prove some point i.e. they should create a thesis statement or a brief set of interlinked points using evidence and reasoning. It is especially important to use suitable examples and/or properly-cited sources from relevant texts. Collecting evidence involves reading various texts or source material with an eye on your “temporary” thesis or essay question.
- When writing an academic paper, it is often the case that the topic does not come with a ready-prepared thesis. Therefore, your first task is to develop the question or problem to be addressed in your essay. The next step is to develop a temporary thesis or a hypothesis through reading, thinking, and making a note of any ideas that occur to you. Do not commit too soon to your first idea or answer. Think about each one, explore them, and even put them to the test by deliberately considering what counter-arguments you might face. Hence, you need to be prepared to qualify and revise your initial idea as your essay develops. (At times, thinking about a title can help in this respect.)
- There are usually several ways to present an argument, but it is how you organise your work that determines how clear and persuasive it is. So, bear this in mind in the way you begin, progress, and end. The rough order that your ideas develop is not usually the best way to present these to your readers.
- Whether you seek professional academic writing help or write your own essays, there are various ways to ensure the process is successful. The following are some best practice methods that the best writers invariably use:
A lot of writers begin early
This is because these writers use the written word to explore and discover and not just to write about what they have found out already.
When writing academic papers, many writers do not try to write straight through from start to end. Rather, they tend to write what is ready or easy to write, even if they are not certain how or if their words will fit later.
Despite being able to write freely, many writers keep organisation and purpose in mind and adjust these as work progresses. Thus, an outline consciously keeps developing even though this may never materialise beyond a collection of scattered and disjointed thoughts.
Most good writers revise their academic essays and other texts extensively
They do not usually write just one draft and edit it sentence by sentence. Rather, they look at the entire text and re-draft it several times, adding, removing, re-ordering the sequence, and continuously taking account of what they learn along the way. This type of revision often means leaving a text to one side for several days, letting the mind rest, and returning to it with a more objective mind.
Once a reasonably well-organised and near-complete draft is available, they revise again. This time they look at transitions e.g. making sure their readers will be able to follow the flow of ideas as they move through the various sentences and paragraphs. Two additional factors that need considering during revision are diction and economy, which respectively means the suitability and precision of words and being efficient with words while maintaining clarity and completeness. The last step is proofreading the final version.