Students have to deal with a lot of paper writing throughout their academic career. Essays, researches, reports, term papers, and other kinds of written assignments come in a variety of forms and types. Development of the effective technical writing skills requires knowledge, responsible attitude, passion for what you are doing, and a lot of practice. There exist numerous techniques that are supposed to help you succeed in paper writing. Below you will find eight distinctive steps to writing an essay and the recommendations for their successful completion. Applying them in your academic writing will help you get exceptionally high grades for any kind of the research paper you are doing.
1. Choosing a Topic
When selecting a topic, you should start with reading your assignment carefully and making sure you thoroughly understand what is required. Should you have any questions, they have to be clarified before you start working on your topic.
Once the task is completely clear to you, you can think about the subject you are really passionate about. The more you are interested in the selected topic, the more enthusiastic you will be about your research.
Do not choose the topic that is too vast. For instance, the topic “Classical Music” can be narrowed to “Romanticism in the Classical Music” or “The History of the Classic Opera.” Consider your knowledge, skills, and the available sources. Make sure the chosen subject is not too specialized, and you are able to obtain enough material to cover a topic.
2. Searching for the Information
You should start with structuring the potential sources. Surfing the Internet is useful, however, be careful which sites you are using. The domains, such as .edu (educational institution), .gov (government), and .org (non-profit organization) are considered to be reliable since they represent official institutions. Commercial sites or personal homepages, which are countless on the Net, can be less trustworthy. Their quality and reliability vary greatly, so deciding which ones can be used for your research is also a part of your paper writing skills.
For general information, you should consider the following online resources:
- Encyclopedias and dictionaries
- Almanacs and catalogs
- Online reference materials
- Specific software or online services that you can install on your computer
- Online periodicals and newspapers, etc.
Do not neglect the libraries, where you can get tons of useful printed materials, such as the Government Publications and Reports, Yellow Pages, atlases, magazines, etc.
Make sure you carefully write down all the bibliographic information on your sources since you will be required to properly document them in your paper.
3. Stating Your Thesis
Once you have determined your topic and studied the general information on it, you can formulate your thesis statement in one sentence. It is going to be the basic idea of your research, and your paper will provide an argumentative support for it.
4. Creating the Right Structure for Your Paper
There are various paper writing tips that might help you create a winning essay or research paper. However, almost all of them highlight the importance of a proper structure. Unless otherwise required, the basic structure of your paper should include three main parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Introduction. The purpose of the introduction is to outline your thesis or argument. Following the thesis, you should provide a brief overview of how you are going to support your main idea throughout the rest of the paper. You have to tell the reader why you are writing about this topic, how you are going to approach it, and what the main points of your paper are. The reader has to feel the logical transition from the introductory paragraph to the body of your paper. Moreover, it is a good idea to include a special “hook” into your introduction to grab the reader’s attention from the very beginning. Thus, you can start with the relevant quotation or surprising statistics.
Body. The body of the paper usually consists of a number of paragraphs, in which you spell out the arguments that support your thesis statement. In the body, you should make the assertions compliant with the main thesis and support each of them with arguments. The optimal amount of the arguments is three, and it makes sense to end your paper with the strongest of your arguments. Remember to be precise and specific when justifying your point. If you give examples, you should explain why you believe they are relevant and illustrate your statement. Finally, make sure that all your points and supportive arguments unquestionably prove your initial thesis.
Conclusion. Sometimes the conclusion is seen as a second introduction. Indeed, it contains many of the same features. First and foremost, you should restate your thesis. In case you used a “hook” at the beginning of your paper, you may start with the allusion to it, thus providing a smooth transition to your conclusion. Then, reinforce your argument with a brief review of the main points stated in the body of your research. When reading your paper, the reader should clearly understand why you have come to this particular conclusion. Finally, you may finish your paper with a “general statement” that points out the end of the discussion.
Keeping this basic structure in mind, you should create a detailed tentative outline of your research. A proper outline will be of great help in your paper writing process since it allows you to make sure your paper is well-structured, logically organized, and covers all the important points. Later, you can make changes to the initial outline if required. However, the outline is necessary at the beginning, as it forms a solid framework and gives you specific directions for the research.
5. Organizing Your Notes
During the second stage, as described above, you have collected tons of information from various sources. However, before using the data that you have found, you should analyze it carefully, verify and double-check, to guarantee the accuracy of all the information you use in your research paper. You should be able to sort and digest the collected information and perform analysis and synthesis to eventually come up with your own ideas and insights. Make sure your paper contains your authentic thoughts to share with your readers.
When surfing the Internet or browsing the literature in the library, you may be overwhelmed with the information. It may cause the temptation to use all the found data in your research. However, you should stay critical in this regard. Carefully sort out the information that is not relevant to the topic, inaccurate, unconfirmed, or that is not understandable to you.
Remember that plagiarism is unacceptable. You should record all the used information in your own words, except for the quotations. However, in both cases, the used sources should be indicated. The way to organize your citations depends on the style of your paper. Refer to the corresponding style guides if this is required for your research. In any case, you should make notes, write down all the bibliographic information for each source you have cited, and include all the sources into your Works Cited page. This part should necessarily contain a full list of the material you have consulted. If required, you should also include the organizations and people you have contacted. It is important since you or your reader may need to check back on the provided points or further develop some of your ideas.
If you feel lost in the myriad of notes you have made, you may choose different methods to organize them. For example, you can group them according to your outline so that afterward you will be able to quickly put all your sources in the proper place. It is a very practical step that will help you make your paper writing more efficient.
6. Writing a Draft
During this step, you are going to take advantage of all the work you have done in the previous sections, namely, “organizing your notes.”
When writing a draft, you should start with the very first point in your outline. You should gather all the notes related to this part, summarize them, and paraphrase or quote directly to support your ideas for this specific topic. Then, repeat the algorithm for the rest of the statements in your outline.
You can use a technique that is most convenient for you and complies with your working style. If you prefer “non-digital” solutions, then write down your summaries, paraphrases and quotations on the separate pieces of paper and clearly attribute each piece to the corresponding statement. Otherwise, if you are using your computer, you can store your notes for each point in the separate file. Just make sure your file names correspond to the points in the outline so that you don’t mix them up afterward.
When you complete this work for the entire outline, you can simply copy the texts in every file and paste them consequently in your final paper according to the outline. Such approach ensures that you will stick to your structure and have a well-organized paper as a result.
7. Revising Your Draft
Your paper has to be checked for errors related to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You should read and revise your paper carefully, and preferably check it with the free proofreading services. Also, you should check all the stated facts and figures. Should there be any inconsistency with your outline, it has to be properly corrected. The outline itself can also be reorganized if needed. However, you should keep in mind the basic purpose of your paper throughout the entire paper writing process.
Furthermore, you should check all your statements for mechanical errors, including the use of the apostrophes and similarly written words. Remove the repetitive and unnecessary words. Search for the synonyms to vary your language. However, do not overdo with the fancy words, but rather keep your writing short, concise, easily understood, and to the point.
A useful step in paper writing is to have someone else to read your research. Another person is likely to see the mistakes you have missed.
There are also a number of questions you can ask yourself to make sure your paper is written well. The general questions include the following ones:
- Is your thesis statement concise and clear?
- Does your paper follow your outline?
- Are your arguments presented in a logical order?
- Have you properly cited all the sources?
- Are your supporting arguments strong enough?
- Are all your points clear to the reader?
Another group of questions has more to do with the details:
- Do you begin each paragraph with the right topic sentence?
- Do you provide a documented proof or examples for all your arguments?
- Does your paper include run-on or unfinished sentences?
- Do your sentences vary in length substantially?
- Do all your paragraphs flow smoothly from one to another?
- Are all your quotes precise in their spelling and punctuation?
- Are all your citations organized correctly?
- Have you been writing in the third person as much as possible? The phrases to avoid are: “I think,” “I guess,” and “I suppose.”
Finally, you have to make sure your text is interesting to the reader and gives the sense of completion at the end of the paper.
8. Finalizing the Paper
Now it is time to refer to your initial assignment again and make sure you completely understand what is expected of you. You have to be aware of all the criteria according to which your paper will be evaluated, and your paper should correspond to all the requirements.
Check and double check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling again. Numerous reviews are essential since they give you a fresh insight and may reveal numerous mistakes.
Moreover, you should pay attention to the visual appeal of your paper as it makes the first and vital impression on your reader. You should do all you can to make your paper look clean, tidy, and attractive.
It is also good to finish your final paper a couple of days prior to the deadline. Thus, you will have enough time for additional revisions and will be able to avoid the unnecessary rush.It should be noted that the excellent paper writing skills don’t develop suddenly. You can study all the available literature on the effective essay writing, but it is much easier in theory than in practice. The more you write, the more polished your paper writing skills will become. Each of your papers will give you valuable experience, so you should do your best to maximize their usefulness in your learning process. After all, practice makes perfect.