Academic writing at the college level can be quite scary. The stakes are high and the time is limited. With expectation weighing down on you from your instructors and family, it is easy to feel stressed. So, if you have been asked to complete an academic essay and you have no idea how to proceed, then you should read this informative piece. Here, we cover a step by step analysis of the writing process to help students improve their skills.
Start by Choosing and Narrowing a Topic
The first and most important stage of the academic writing process is selecting a good topic. Please note that the subject chosen influences the relevance, depth, and breadth of analysis. Of course, there are instances when instructors provide topics or questions to guide the research process. In other cases, you will be given the freedom to pick something that is relevant and interesting. While freedom to choose provides room for creativity, always choose a topic that is informative, current, and related to the subject. Begin with a few ideas and choose the best one after some research. Feel free to consult your instructor for some guidance.
Remember that a good topic should be narrowed down to allow for comprehensive analysis. Once you have thought about a possible subject, look at its smaller parts or select a specific problem, place or time to cover.
Here are some characteristics of a good paper topic:
- The question does not have a simple and straightforward answer;
- The question is worth academic analysis;
- The writing will achieve a specific goal;
- The topic is interesting to you and to your audience;
- There is sufficient information available in credible sources.
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Brainstorm for Ideas and Take Clear Notes
In academic writing, brainstorming implies the process of recalling anything you know about a subject and taking notes. Once you have a topic, write down all the probable answers to your question. Brainstorming allows you to see what you already know, your opinions, and what you need to find out. Writing everything down ensures that you will not forget your amazing ideas later.
Conduct Careful Research
The research process is the heart of academic writing. Please remember that conclusive research takes time and should never be rushed. In other words, approach this stage as an ongoing process. It continues throughout the writing process as you reconsider your thesis, create an outline, draft the paper, and edit the writing. Remember to record the details of your sources to help with citation and referencing.
Draft a Clear and Concise Thesis
For most academic papers, you will be expected to have an arguable thesis to guide the rest of the writing. This is a statement in which you synthesize your entire argument and offer direction on what your readers should expect. A good thesis comprises one main idea for the paper. It covers your point of view, which you should be able to validate with credible evidence. In terms of when to write your thesis, the answer depends on when you know the answer to your essay question. We recommend starting with a working thesis, which can then be refined as you proceed with the research and writing process.
Plan Properly and Create an Outline
It is impossible to write an outstanding academic paper if you do not plan adequality. Here, an outline implies a blueprint of how you intend to proceed with the task. A basic outline will help you to organize your ideas for the paper. As you plan, make sure to break down sections into smaller parts. Once you have gone through your sources and taken notes, you can then create a more detailed outline by adding information to your basic plan.
Start Writing the First Draft as Soon as Possible
All the preparation highlighted here is meant to help you to complete the initial draft with ease. In other words, remember to allocate enough time for the creation of coherent papers. We suggest dividing your work into three sections, including an introduction, then body and conclusion. Most writers begin with the body paragraphs, saving the conclusion and introduction sections for the finale. As you write, be aware of plagiarism, and give credit to sources of your evidence.
Make Time for Editing and Proofreading
Once you have completed your first draft, understand that your paper is far from finished. The next step is to carefully revise the writing and strengthen the content. Editing will also make your work more concise and easier to comprehend.
Here, we have presented tips for effective academic writing. Remember, each paper comes with specific instructions which the writer must follow.