Writing Good Academic Papers
List of Contents
2. Thesis Statement
3. Writing Good Academic Papers (Overview)
5. Reference and citations
6. Types of Academic Assignments
7. Educational Degrees
All academic papers should be written with the ultimate purpose being a demonstration of intellectual grasp and understanding of the topic at hand by the author. It should also allow the intended audience the ability to follow the author’s logic and thought process by a well laid out topography of ideas, hypothesis theory and conclusion. Having a complete grasp of the subject matter will assist invaluably in this first step. The rule of the thumb is to know your subject matter well and the rest is a question of formatting your ideas in an academically accepted format. This essay will give you appropriate guidelines on how to do this.
2. Thesis Statement
This is a descriptive essay on how to write a good academic paper helping the intended audience to format and write their own papers with the currently accepted models.
3. Writing Good Academic Papers
Put your main topic in box on a rough paper and inside this box write you topic. After careful consideration divide your main topic into five or six sub headings. This should form the main guideline of your essay.
Under each of the sub-headings, write down the main points or argument for and against each title. Make sure to put your arguments clearly across without any ambiguity or room for misrepresentation. If you are trying to persuade or disuade, you want to write your best arguments.
a. If you are trying to explain a process, please be clear on the method used to arrive to your opinions or arguments. These ideas should be presented in a free flowing manner and follow particular steps to enable the audience a simplified view of processes involved to get a particular conclusion.
You will need to group these into categories. A more simplified way of doing this is thinking of your end product and working backwards to how you got there; then divide the outcome into a beginning ( introduction), middle (body) and the end (conclusion).
b. If it is an informative piece make sure to divide your information into all the categories it can be divided into. This will assist you in including all the relevant information as per the topic being written about.
Each of your main ideas will then present you with a platform from which you can expound on the idea and the collateral issues that arise from each idea. By having a main topic and issues arising from the topics; you now have a blue print for your paper to make your argument in an already logical pattern of thought.
One common mistake that is made by students is digression. To aid you, keep on the path and spirit of your essay and remember to constantly refer back to your thesis statement. This will keep you in line and discourage a wordy discourse that only serves to water down your well made arguments.Your thesis statement will have two parts.
- The first part states the topic.
- The second part states the point of the essay.
4. Research and Presentation.
This is the most critical part of essay writing. Having comprehensive knowledge of the subject at hand is paramount. Here; please make sure all topics and subtopics have been extensively researched and backed up by citations and quotes from leading experts in the field your writing on. This lends the paper more academic weight and show that it is an area the author is familiar with. Essay writers will have to be careful as regards plagiarism. Plagiarism is the willful purloining of another author thoughts language and fact then presenting them as your own. Any piece of work that seeks to gain authenticity must originate from the authors own rigorous research and presentation; in the worst case scenario this can lead to prosecution and usually is responsible for what would be otherwise brilliant researchers being taken less seriously in their academic field.
5. Reference and Citation Styles
Citation style can be basically divided to those used in humanities and sciences. Below is a list of some of the widely used citation styles in use today.
- APSA - American Political Science Association
- ASA - American Sociological Association
- CMOS - Chicago Style
- MLA - Modern Language Association
- MHRA - Modern Humanities Research Association
To acquaint you further with more advanced citation styles please refer to the following "Citation Formats & Style Manuals". CSUChico.edu. 2007.
Citation styles vary with the field of study one is involved in. Humanities, Science, Law and most academic fields have their own style but there are the basic similarities to style with the variance coming from the manner of presentation of academic material or level of education and the type of educational degree.
6. Main Types of Written Assignments
- Essay – An essay is a short piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view.
- Report - Written reports are documents which present focused, salient content to a specific audience. Reports are often used to display the result of an experiment, investigation, or inquiry.
- Thesis - A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.
- Dissertation - In some countries/universities, the word thesis or a cognate is used as part of a bachelor's or master's course, while dissertation is normally applied to a doctorate, whilst, in others, the reverse is true.
7. Educational Degrees
The main educational degrees are:
- Certificate Programs and Associate's Degrees - designed for students who wish to obtain training in a specific area, such as nursing or mechanics, without obtaining a 4-year degree.
- Bachelor's Degrees - Mostly referred to as college degree is a 4-year degrees offered by liberal arts colleges, research universities, specialty educational institutions or technical schools.
- Master's Degrees - These are programs that typically run from 1 to 3 years. They are offered in the same areas as bachelor's degrees. However, coursework for a master's degree is focused on a single subject or course of study. Students are required to complete a major academic paper or project along with their coursework to receive a master's degree.
- Doctoral Degrees – These are the highest level of educational degree offered in most countries after completing a master's degree or directly after completing a bachelor's degree. Students also often work for a period of time before beginning a doctoral degree program. Doctoral degree programs almost always require students to complete a major thesis of original research or some other substantial project in order to receive the degree.
- Online Degrees - or distance learning, programs allow students to complete coursework either in real time via teleconferencing or on their own schedules. Either option often allows students to work from home on their own computers. As found in:
References:College.gov: Kinds of Schools--Set Your Course, Federal Student Aid: Things to Consider, Ed.gov: Career Colleges and Technical Schools - Special Considerations
An organized and carefully thought out process of gathering, interpreting, and documenting information, developing and organizing ideas and conclusions, and communicating them clearly, will ensure that the end product is a well researched and written academic research paper.
I. "Citation Formats & Style Manuals". CSUChico.edu. 2007.
II. References:College.gov: Kinds of Schools--Set Your Course, Federal Student Aid:
III. Things to Consider, Ed.gov: Career Colleges and Technical Schools - Special Considerations
There Is No Hope of Doing a Perfect Research
There is no hope of doing a perfect research. The word “research” in itself implies imperfection. It is an exercise posited on a fundamental premise that we do not know everything about our physical and metaphysical world which is why we continue to look and investigate. And by researching, we admit that the information we have is not complete which is why we continue to validate and discover. The search is a never ending cycle that we continue to investigate, validate and test established knowledge even including previous research. That to describe research as an absolute and perfect activity that nothing could be added nor done to improve its process and result would be to contradict its nature and intent.
This imperfection, however provided the vehicle and impetus that drove humanity to progress. Had research been pefect, civilization would have stagnated. No discoveries would have been made, no techniques would have been improved and no new methods would have been introduced. Our understanding of the world would have been the same as it was and myths would have been perpetually held as truth.
Research is man’s systematic attempt to better his lot in this imperfect world. It is the expression of man’s natural curisiousity to discover the unknown:
“Progress in almost every field of science depends on the contributions made by systematic research; thus research is often viewed as the cornerstone of scientific progress. Broadly defined, the purpose of research is to answer questions and acquire new knowledge. Research is the primary tool used in virtually all areas of science to expand the frontiers of knowledge … and ultimately improve the way we live” (Marcyzk et al 1).
Even the method on how research is done is not spared from flaw and thus cannot be construed as perfect. The researcher may be subjected to prejudices and biases that can affect the outcome of the study. “A researcher who holds certain beliefs about the nature of his or her research and how the results will or should turn out may intentionally or unintentionally influence the outcome of the study in a way that favors his or her expected outcome” (Barber & Silver, 1968); such, the farthest that research can claim is the accuracy and validity of its conclusion and never the perfection of its result. Where biases and errors are minimized through the use of statistical controls, comparison groups and randomization and where sound causality of inferences and evaluation lead to a reasonable and valid conclusion.
Though imperfect as it is, research is still the most reliable method of knowing the unknown. By understanding the rigor of research methods, we are able to filter which information would be useful out of the myriad of data available to us. “An understanding of research methods allows us to become critical consumers of information. Understanding research methods allows us to assess the wealth of information we receive each day in light of some very discerning standards” (Ruane 8).
And as such, research merely pushes the frontier of knowledge through a discerning eye and ever mindful of the infirmity of its methods and the limitation of its result. Thus, perfection in research can never be achieved and it can only hope for the validity of its conclusion.
Barber, T. X., & Silver, M. J. “Fact, Fiction, and the Experimenter Bias Effect”.
Psychological Bulletin. 1968. 70, 1–29. Print.
Marczyk, Geoffrey et al. Essentials of Research Design and Methodology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005. PDF file.
Ruane, Jane M.. Essentials of Research Methods: A Guide to Social Science Research. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. PDF file.
Written by: Roderick H.
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