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Academic Papers: The Secrets of Successful Writing

Any university or college is the first step on your way to your future career, no matter which one you have chosen. As for me, I wanted to become a teacher since the middle school, so I have entered the university for this purpose. However, I found it uninteresting to be a teacher at school. That is why, after getting my BA degree in English Philology, I have decided to enter the university and get my MA degree in Philology and Literature as well, but with the scientific specification. I did this with one aim in mind – to obtain the PhD in English Philology, so I can make my contribution to the development of the contemporary linguistics or the translation studies. To achieve this goal, I had to follow the well-established pattern – I had to write several research papers. In reality, there were only two of them – the term paper and the undergraduate thesis. Now, I am working on my qualification thesis and it is the most important project I have ever undertaken in my entire life. It was a bit difficult for me to write all of these documents, because I literally knew nothing about the way these papers should be organized and designed. That is why I have decided to collect all the basic information about the major and minor types of papers here. As a student, you will definitely have to write a lot, so these tips will help you by giving a brief estimate of the rules about how your papers should be designed. Let us begin!

The Simple Academic Creativity

It may sound a little bit strange, but we are going to be talking about the essay now. It is the simplest academic paper every student is well acquainted with. We have written dozens of them even at school. However, those were just the general compositions on the required topic. A university or college essay is much more complicated. It has a strict structure: the introduction, the main body, its thesis and arguments, several examples and evidence that support or counter our arguments and conclusions. The academic essay itself is the critical evaluation and the objective summary of the information you perceived during a course on a specific topic. It may be a scientific essay or a literary one, depending on the subject of the description. Now, it will be beneficial to read and learn how to create the perfect and captivating essays.

Step 1: Everything Is Possible

If in the environment of strict academic norms there is a small space for creativity and brilliant experiments, then we are probably speaking about an essay. Subjective impressions, thrilling metaphors, weird associations, quotes from your favorite songs and even a story told on the behalf of your favorite character from a series or a book – you may use whatever you like. Let your text say about everything you were not able to express during formal lectures and seminars. Feel free to experiment with the styles and genres, because it is the only paper type that gives you the freedom of voice.

Step 2: Standards Still Exist

Essay Structure

However, the essay also has its structure. The most creative tutors do not have a lot of requirements for it. Nevertheless, in such cases, the basic principles of a sound mind begin to operate. Here, we should keep these several simple rules in mind:

Personal Thoughts

Your essay is a demonstration of your world view embodied in a written form. If you do not want to get the nickname «Illogical Tom», you should follow the traditional way of text composition (introduction, main part, ending).

Style and Form

This is the second rule – always stick to one style and form, depending on the specific task, the topic and the goals. Usually, an essay as a form of assessment is used in the humanitarian disciplines in order to test an ability to apply non-standard and analytical thinking.

Individual Research

Plagiarism is the best way to disrespect yourself. Do you not have your own point of view? Moreover, in comparison with the term paper or a report, the size of an essay is not as critical that you should resort to somebody else’s thoughts and ideas.

Support Your Statements

It is not only possible to turn to any sources of the information, but it is also obligatory. Various references to the opinions of some people who are competent in the subject you are writing the paper on will automatically add value to your essay. Still, you should mark each phrase as a quotation, and indicate all sources used in the bibliography.

Step 3: Set Up for the Work

At this stage, you can wait for the inspiration or use the method of brainstorming. The sheet of paper will remain blank only at the beginning of your work. Carefully read the topic suggested for the essay. What associations, comparisons, facts immediately come to your mind? Write them in their original form, then postpone writing the paper for a little while. If there is enough time, you can turn to the insight method: forget about the essay for several days and continue reading literature or watching videos related to the topic.

Step 4: Get Everything Together

If the teacher recommends a certain book, you have to find it. Other than that, it is up to you what books to read for your assignment – take a look at the previous works on this topic. Save the quotations that you liked, always mentioning the author and the source. Read your thoughts and selected quotes. You may find that some quotes naturally supplement and illustrate your point of view. In that case, it is time to combine them. Think about some relevant examples or, if the format and theme of the essay allows for it, search for the statistics and analyze them. Hence, you will fill in your essay step by step, until you understand that there is the sufficient amount of information. Now, you can write the introductory part and draw conclusions.

Step 5: Editing

It is better to make the latest reviewing session of the paper when some time after you finished it has already passed. Pay attention to the certain aspects: whether the logical structure is preserved and whether the arguments correspond to the stated theses.

However, an essay is only the smallest part among the variety of all academic papers. Which is why, we would now like to dwell on the term project.

Keep It Formal

The number of strict formal requirements for the design of the term paper – that is the first thing that scares students. In fact, all these strange standards from the Ministry of Education are conditioned by the common logic and specifics of the project itself. An imposed structure of the text, with the mandatory introduction, topicality, object and subject – all of that helps us not get lost in our own research and understand how to start the text and how to end it properly. So, here is a piece of advice: carefully adhere to the standards of writing the term paper offered by the teacher.

Step 1: Develop A Plan

The requirements must be thoroughly studied, the title should be designed according to the best traditions of the manual. And yet, after all of that, our Microsoft Word document still shows a scary «Page: 1 of 1». What should you do next? Form the plan – it will be the skeleton and the foundation of your future paper. The plan must conform to the generally accepted structure: the introduction, the main part (at least 3 chapters, based on the principle of «from general to concrete»), the conclusion. It may also include some appendices, because the charts, tables and statistics will make your project more understandable and rich. And of course, you must never forget about the bibliography (at least 20 sources).

Step 2: All Research Is Good

Research Ideas

Now you need to find some information for each section of the plan. The text of the term paper should be placed in accordance to the sections. Never copy the information of famous scientists mindlessly. However, if it did happen, just try to paraphrase it as much as possible or make a quotation and add it to the references. If you are working on the project for a long time – set up a special notebook and fix any ideas there. You can watch a thematic video. Alternatively, you should try using the World Wide Web because there are plenty of online resources. Sometimes, something useful can even be found on YouTube. Arrange the thoughts and ideas that you like in your work and do not be afraid to refer to the video materials.

Step 3: Introductions and Conclusions

The only thing that remains is to write an introduction and a conclusion. Moreover, you should always finalize the list of used literature. In the introduction, we state the relevance of the studied subject, set aims and objectives, clearly state our subject, object, the degree of actual development of the topic, the main research concepts and the structure of our work. Conclusion is, in essence, a supplement to the detailed introduction. It must refute or confirm the hypothesis which was put forward, and also mention the prospect of the further studies of the topic. Both introduction and conclusion are always read by any teacher, so try to make these parts as intriguing as possible.

 

If you are done with these two types of the academic paper, then you are ready to publish your scientific achievements in different periodicals. However, you still need to know how to write a proper scientific article. Here are the simple tips which you should follow to write it correctly.

Step 1: An Idea

Like an essay or term paper, a scientific article begins with an idea and an interest in a particular topic. Suddenly, you understand that you have noticed a distinctive pattern in the investigated processes and statistics, or, on the contrary, you have found an error in the statements and completely disagree with the theses of a particular author. Alternatively, you may just be interested in a certain topic and want to formulate your own vision of the problem.

Step 2: The Research

A simple list of remarks or new ideas is not the format of the scientific paper that will impress the academic world. In the case of any serious publication, you should involve your detailed and meticulous research. At this stage, you can consult the tutor. Moreover, the presence of a scientific advisor is one of the main requirements of many scientific publications. He or she will recommend the relevant literature or, in the case of more practical topics, indicate some empirical methods (experiments, questionnaires, interviews, etc.), useful for the effective research.

Step 3: Formulate the Thesis

Now, it is time to analyze all the accumulated material. Consult an advisor and choose the most relevant and interesting data. This will be the thesis – one of the main elements of your text.

Step 4: Develop Your Arguments

Debate

Abstracts, supplemented by the arguments, are the main content of any scientific article. Each of your theses must be proved or countered by the appropriate argument. The best arguments are, of course, the results of your own experiments, questionnaires or surveys. However, you can use researches of the prominent scientists and just quote them. The quality of your article will depend on the strong and logical arguments.

Step 5: The IMRAD Principle

The only thing that remains is to arrange the text according to the academic requirements. The most widespread structure of a scientific article is embodied in the principle of IMRAD:

Introduction: it is the relevance and importance of your research, its purpose, a brief description of the issues under consideration. In the introduction, it is necessary to outline the general theses and gradually move to the specific statements.

Methods: shows what methods and materials you used. Also, it describes all possible factors that could affect the results.

Results: shows whether you were able to find answers to the questions asked in the main body. This part of the paper is filled with specific theses and arguments. Various tables, graphs and drawings can also be used here.

And discussion: your conclusions, comparison with the results of the previous research topics, the value of your paper as well as the future perspective for studying this topic.

Step 6: Choose the Periodical

It is expedient to choose the periodical for the publication of your article at the research stage, as each journal or manual has its own requirements for the design and content of the article. If you really want to have your own publication only in a specific edition, the topic of the article should be chosen in accordance to its features. It is convenient to look through the scientific publications using their own special catalogs. In addition to that, each university has various specialized periodicals for young scientists. As a rule, scientific conferences offer the publication of reports in the separate volumes. A scientific article is your contribution to the development of the contemporary science. Whether it will be valuable or will remain unnoticed depends on you.

 

At the end of this article, we would like to tell that it is possible to write any kind of paper, but you have to change your attitude towards the process. An essay, a term paper or a thesis will be a senseless waste of time only if you think about it that way. In fact, writing a research work is the first serious startup. This is a project that requires you to manifest your analytical, managerial, psychological and communicative skills. It is necessary to clearly set your goals and deadlines, plan every step, evaluate resources, find people who can help, collect and organize the necessary material, control the process and finally present a high-quality product. You have a unique opportunity to get a lot of useful qualities and skills and become more than just a student. Make sure to do your best and success will definitely come to you!

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