What sorts of evidence will your reader value and appreciate? What details has your professor asked you to include in the paper this ties back to the rhetorical situation? Are you writing only for your professor? Should a community of peers knowledgeable in the subject be able to understand your paper without the course as background?
What objections or counterarguments might your audience have? How can you address or refute them could it have something to do with your use of appropriate evidence? Does your paper put forth an interesting, unique thesis statement sometimes as an answer to a thought-provoking question? Instead of just having a topic, think of your paper as a way for you to answer a burning question you have about the topic.
After asking this thought-provoking question you may want to talk with your professor about what makes a good question , you should use the paper to actually answer the question. Thus, the question is not your thesis; rather, your thesis is the informed answer you put forth in your paper after considering lots of evidence.
The thesis should be the guiding point of your paper. It should be interesting to you and to readers and should generate some energy. You should not have more than one thesis; all of the ideas in your paper should be coordinated around a single focus. Have you used appropriate, contextualized evidence, as well as considering alternative views or counter arguments? When you share this stuff with friends and followers, you usually use a link to show them where you found that interesting, inspiring quote or statistic think about the share features on Facebook and Tumblr or the retweet function on Twitter.
Every paper needs evidence. What type of evidence will you use? This will depend on what you are trying to say. For lab reports, did you include all details about the experiment? Consider including specific measurements. Did you understand what the text was about? Did you use correct, factual information? Have you integrated quotations into your own writing with transitions that set them up and comments that explain how they fit your argument? Part of your evidence needs to demonstrate your awareness of the opposition.
Did you mention opposing voices, present alternative ideas and evidence, or help your readers understand that you know other perspectives are a part of this particular conversation? How has your use of evidence accounted for these other sometimes hostile voices? Again, when you use evidence, you need to show your readers where you found that evidence. Please see expectation number 8, which focuses on discipline-specific citation methods.
Does your paper have a logical organizational structure? Think about your paper as a way to connect the dots for readers. Using clear explanations of evidence and transitions from one piece of evidence to another or from paragraph to paragraph will create a logical progression.
Now, organize your thoughts and information under each sub-heading. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach.
You know, the one where you throw in every bit of interesting research you uncovered, including the fungal growth in the U-joint of your kitchen sink? Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper. Need more help? Grammarly can save you from misspellings, grammatical and punctuation mistakes, and other writing issues on all your favorite websites. Your writing, at its best. Be the best writer in the office. Craft a strong opening sentence that will engage the reader.
Explain the purpose of your paper and how you plan to approach the topic. Is this a factual report? An analysis? A persuasive piece? Conclude the introductory paragraph with your thesis statement. The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions: What is this?
Why am I reading it? What do you want me to do? You should answer these questions by doing the following: Set the context — Provide general information about the main idea, explaining the situation so the reader can make sense of the topic and the claims you make and support.
Do not use vague expressions that are not specific or precise enough for the reader to derive exact meaning ["they," "we," "people," "the organization," etc. Punctuation Scholars rely on precise words and language to establish the narrative tone of their work and, therefore, punctuation marks are used very deliberately. For example, exclamation points are rarely used to express a heightened tone because it can come across as unsophisticated or over-excited.
Dashes should be limited to the insertion of an explanatory comment in a sentence, while hyphens should be limited to connecting prefixes to words [e. Finally, understand that semi-colons represent a pause that is longer than a comma, but shorter than a period in a sentence.
If you are not confident about when to use semi-colons [and most of the time, they are not required for proper punctuation], rewrite using shorter sentences or revise the paragraph. Academic Conventions Citing sources in the body of your paper and providing a list of references as either footnotes or endnotes is a very important aspect of academic writing.
It is essential to always acknowledge the source of any ideas, research findings, data, or quoted text that you have used in your paper as a defense against allegations of plagiarism. Equally important, the scholarly convention of citing sources allow readers to identify the resources you used in writing your paper so they can independently verify and assess the quality of findings and conclusions based on your review of the literature.
Examples of other academic conventions to follow include the appropriate use of headings and subheadings, properly spelling out acronyms when first used in the text, avoiding slang or colloquial language, avoiding emotive language or unsupported declarative statements, avoiding contractions, and using first person and second person pronouns only when necessary. Evidence-Based Reasoning Assignments often ask you to express your own point of view about the research problem.
However, what is valued in academic writing is that opinions are based on what is often termed, evidence-based reasoning, a sound understanding of the pertinent body of knowledge and academic debates that exist within, and often external to, your discipline. You need to support your opinion with evidence from scholarly sources. It should be an objective stance presented as a logical argument.
The quality of your evidence will determine the strength of your argument. The challenge is to convince the reader of the validity of your opinion through a well-documented, coherent, and logically structured piece of writing. This is particularly important when proposing solutions to problems or delineating recommended courses of action.
Note that a problem statement without the research questions does not qualify as academic writing because simply identifying the research problem does not establish for the reader how you will contribute to solving the problem, what aspects you believe are most critical, or suggest a method for gathering data to better understand the problem. Complexity and Higher-Order Thinking Academic writing addresses complex issues that require higher-order thinking skills applied to understanding the research problem [e.
Higher-order thinking skills include cognitive processes that are used to comprehend, solve problems, and express concepts or that describe abstract ideas that cannot be easily acted out, pointed to, or shown with images. Think of your writing this way: One of the most important attributes of a good teacher is the ability to explain complexity in a way that is understandable and relatable to the topic being presented.
This is also one of the main functions of academic writing--examining and explaining the significance of complex ideas as clearly as possible. As a writer, you must adopt the role of a good teacher by summarizing a lot of complex information into a well-organized synthesis of ideas, concepts, and recommendations that contribute to a better understanding of the research problem.
Improve Your Writing Skills. Second edition. Stylish Academic Writing. Strategies for Understanding Academic Writing and Its Jargon The very definition of jargon is language specific to a particular sub-group of people.
Therefore, in modern university life, jargon represents the specific language and meaning assigned to words and phrases specific to a discipline or area of study. For example, the idea of being rational may hold the same general meaning in both political science and psychology, but its application to understanding and explaining phenomena within the research domain of a each discipline may have subtle differences based upon how scholars in that discipline apply the concept to the theories and practice of their work.
Given this, it is important that specialist terminology [i. Subject-specific dictionaries are the best places to confirm the meaning of terms within the context of a specific discipline.
These can be found by either searching in the USC Libraries catalog by entering the disciplinary and the word dictionary [e. It is appropriate for you to use specialist language within your field of study, but you should avoid using such language when writing for non-academic or general audiences.
Problems with Opaque Writing It's not unheard of for scholars to utilize needlessly complex syntax or overly expansive vocabulary that is impenetrable or not well-defined. When writing, avoid problems associated with opaque writing by keeping in mind the following: 1. Excessive use of specialized terminology. Yes, it is appropriate for you to use specialist language and a formal style of expression in academic writing, but it does not mean using "big words" just for the sake of doing so.
Overuse of complex or obscure words or writing complicated sentence constructions gives readers the impression that your paper is more about style than substance; it leads the reader to question if you really know what you are talking about.
Focus on creating clear and elegant prose that minimizes reliance on specialized terminology. Inappropriate use of specialized terminology. Because you are dealing with concepts, research, and data within your discipline, you need to use the technical language appropriate to that area of study.
However, nothing will undermine the validity of your study quicker than the inappropriate application of a term or concept.
Any academic writing assignment will seem to you as easy as a piece of cake if you know its main differences from other writing genres and follow the helpful tips. Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper. There is also a particular formatting style you must follow. The Language The investigation of research problems in the social sciences is often complex and multi- dimensional.
Consider the Rule of Three. Personal experience.
Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Proofread final paper carefully for spelling, punctuation, missing or duplicated words. The final sentence ends the story with the consequences of these events. Are your sources properly cited?
Problems with Opaque Writing It's not unheard of for scholars to utilize needlessly complex syntax or overly expansive vocabulary that is impenetrable or not well-defined. Double check the facts and figures. Those main points are your sub-headings. Descriptive writing. Did you mention opposing voices, present alternative ideas and evidence, or help your readers understand that you know other perspectives are a part of this particular conversation? Hint: Grammarly can help!
Your narrative should not include regional dialects or slang terms because they can be open to interpretation; be direct and concise using standard English.
Structure and Writing Style I. Examples of other academic conventions to follow include the appropriate use of headings and subheadings, properly spelling out acronyms when first used in the text, avoiding slang or colloquial language, avoiding emotive language or unsupported declarative statements, avoiding contractions, and using first person and second person pronouns only when necessary. If you cited a statistic, tell the reader what it implies for your argument.
An analysis? Also, be careful using numbers because they can imply a ranked order of priority or importance. Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. There should be narrative links between sentences and paragraphs so that the reader is able to follow your argument. Subject-specific dictionaries are the best places to confirm the meaning of terms within the context of a specific discipline. Do your arguments support and prove your thesis?