Academic writing can be challenging because it requires many different skills such as research, analysis, critical thinking and knowing how to reference sources. If you’re a student, you may be battling with all the academic writing requirements.
You are not alone, as many students struggle to do research, find relevant sources, analyze them, offer their own opinion based on the research, and structure their papers correctly. Here are some tips that could help you to improve your research paper writing skills.
Conduct thorough research
Before you conduct any research, you need to make sure your thesis statement expresses the key idea of your study and clarifies what you hope to prove. This means that when you conduct your research, you can seek out as many relevant sources as you can find to back up your argument.
The more relevant sources you can quote, the better your essay will be. Your university library usually has all the material you need to conduct your research and you can find many academic journals online too. When you do your research, you must record the details of your sources as you will need them for your in-text quotes and your bibliography.
Take time to create a proper outline
Creating an outline is essential because this will help you build a structure for your paper. You can make sure you cover all the necessary points to prove your thesis before you even start writing your first draft. Academic writing follows certain rules with respect to structure and not having an outline makes writing a paper more difficult. If you have a good outline, it will be much easier to write your first draft.
When writing your outline, you will start with an introduction, have a body, and end with a conclusion. Note down titles, subtitles etc and what each paragraph will address. Paragraphs should flow logically from one to another to build the argument.
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Write the body of the paper first
Before you try to write an introduction, start with the body of your paper. When you’ve completed the body, you will have a better idea of how to introduce your paper. To support the main ideas you’ve written in your outline, you need to have evidence. This will involve comparing different points of view and then offering your opinion.
For each point you introduce, you should have several sources. The body should present a coherent and well-structured argument where you don’t digress or skip from one idea to a totally unrelated one.
Use the correct style and language
Make sure you’re using the correct writing style, which depends on the type of essay – descriptive, persuasive, critical or analytical. Academic writing is more formal than other forms of writing but this doesn’t mean you need to use complex words and long sentences. You don’t need to sound pretentious. Markers will quickly see through your attempt to impress and notice if you don’t really understand the words you use.
Short sentences and simple words can have more impact and make your argument easier for a reader to understand. It is also important to make sure punctuation and spelling are correct if you want to achieve a good grade.
Handle your sources correctly
Plagiarism is a threat to a successful academic experience and you can avoid it by correctly referencing your sources. Various types of academic writing software can help with this process and other aspects of writing research papers.
Referencing is often an arduous task but it is easier if you organize your sources as you find them. There are online tools that allow you to collect, download, and organize your references so you can quote them in your text and in your bibliography in the correct way.
Writing a research paper requires many different skills, such as doing research, analyzing and evaluating evidence from different academic sources, offering fact-based opinions, and being able to logically structure an argument. Using the correct language is important, too, as this can affect understanding of your argument. Most students have difficulty with research paper writing at first but with practice, they can improve their skills and achieve better grades.