While you are deciding what you want to write about, an initial warm up that works is to write for five minutes, in sentences, in answer to the question: Once you have started writing your article, use a variation on this question as a warm up — what writing for this project have you done, and what do you want to do in the long, medium and short term?
As discussed, if there are no numbers, there are no goals. Goals that work need to be specific, and you need to monitor the extent to which you achieve them.
This is how you learn to set realistic targets. What exactly are they asking you to do? Work out whether they want you to add or cut something. Write out a list of revision actions. When you resubmit your article include this in your report to the journal, specifying how you have responded to the reviewers' feedback. If your article was rejected, it is still useful to analyse feedback, work out why and revise it for somewhere else.
Most feedback will help you improve your paper and, perhaps, your journal article writing, but sometimes it may seem overheated, personalised or even vindictive.
Some of it may even seem unprofessional. Discuss reviewers' feedback — see what others think of it. You may find that other people — even eminent researchers — still get rejections and negative reviews; any non-rejection is a cause for celebration. Revise and resubmit as soon as you can. These are qualities that you may develop over time — or you may already have them. It may be easier to develop them in discussion with others who are writing for journals.
Writing for academic journals is highly competitive. It can be extremely stressful. Even making time to write can be stressful. And there are health risks in sitting for long periods, so try not to sit writing for more than an hour at a time.
Finally, be sure to celebrate thoroughly when your article is accepted. Remind yourself that writing for academic journals is what you want to do — that your writing will make a difference in some way. These points are taken from the 3rd edition of Writing for Academic Journals. This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. Looking for your next university role? Browse Guardian jobs for thousands of the latest academic, administrative and research posts.
Rowena Murray is professor in education and director of research at the University of the West of Scotland — follow it on Twitter UniWestScotland This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. These might include things like line spacing, total essay length in words, pages, or paragraphs , font size, page numbers, or requirements for cover pages and section headings.
Pay attention to citation style requirements. Depending on the subject matter and the personal preferences of your instructor, you may be required to use a particular citation style. In the US, for example: Essays on subjects in the social sciences usually use APA-style citations. Essays on subjects in the humanities, such as literature or history, typically use MLA or Chicago Style.
Essays on medical or health-related topics may use the AMA style , while other sciences have their own discipline-specific styles.
The basic rules for most common citation styles are readily available online. For more detailed information, look for a style guide in your school library or bookstore.
Most instructors are happy to explain anything that might be unclear, or offer advice on how to approach the assignment. Narrow down your topic. Unless you have been given a very specific assignment, you will probably need to pick a topic to focus on.
Before you start writing, figure out what the main point of your essay will be, and how you plan to approach it. Choose a topic that really interests you, or that sparks a particular question you would like to answer. The first step in writing an academic paper is finding good sources.
Another good way to start building your bibliography is to look at the reference list on an introductory overview of your subject, such as an encyclopedia entry. Look for sources that are reputable, well-sourced, and up-to-date.
Ideally, most of your sources should have been published within the last years. Scholarly books and peer-reviewed articles from academic journals are usually acceptable sources, as well as articles from reputable news organizations. Avoid popular publications and user-edited websites, such as Wikipedia. Read your sources critically. Consider some of the following as you are doing your research: Where is the author getting their information?
Do they provide credible sources? Does the author provide convincing evidence to back up their arguments? Does the author have any obvious biases or agendas that affect the way they present or interpret their information? Incorporate primary sources, if applicable. A primary source is any type of first-hand or direct evidence about your topic. Depending on the subject matter, a primary source might be something like a video recording of an event, data from a laboratory experiment, an interview with an eyewitness, or a historical document, such as a monument, work of art, or memoir.
Looking at primary data allows you to interpret the evidence for yourself. Your instructor should specify whether you need to incorporate primary sources into your research, and if so, how to find and utilize them. Evaluate online sources carefully. While the internet offers a vast quantity of useful information for researchers, it can be hard to separate good-quality resources from bad ones.
In general, look for sources that are published on scholarly websites such as university, library, or museum websites , by reputable news organizations such as the BBC, NPR, or the Associated Press , or by government organizations like the EPA or FDA. When using online articles or other online sources, also consider these questions: Is the author qualified to write on the subject?
Does the author state where they got their information? Are you able to verify the sources? Is the article written in an objective, unbiased manner? Is the article written for an academic audience? Is the content intended to be educational? How does the URL end? Generally, sites that end in. Create a clear thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the most important part of your essay. This is where you get to explain, in clear, concise terms, the main argument that you are planning to make in your essay.
State your thesis in sentences, then work on building an outline and essay that supports your thesis. Once you have narrowed down your topic and done your research, start organizing your thoughts. Write a list of the most important points that you would like to touch on, in the order in which you plan to address them. Introduction Body Point 1, with supporting evidence Point 2, with supporting evidence Point 3, with supporting evidence Counter-argument s Your refutation of the counter-argument s Conclusion.
Present your argument in detail. This is the main part of the essay, consisting of several paragraphs in which you present the major arguments and evidence in support of your thesis. Support each statement with examples, evidence, and an analysis. In order to make your argument convincing, you must provide concrete evidence and an analysis of the evidence.
In each body paragraph, include a topic sentence which is the main idea , evidence that supports the topic sentence, and an analysis of the evidence that links back to the thesis of the essay and the topic sentence of the paragraph. Before you present the main body of your essay, you will need to provide a little background on the topic. It is often easiest to write the introduction after you have already drafted the rest of your essay.
Your introduction should also include a clear summary of the main point of your essay, and a breakdown of how you plan to approach the topic. The poem was eventually republished in a compilation edited by D.
Your essay should not feel choppy and disjointed. Look for ways to segue from one paragraph to another in a smooth, logical way. You might accomplish this by starting each paragraph with a brief sentence that connects it with the topic of the previous one or ending each paragraph with a sentence that links it to the next. Cite your sources clearly and correctly. Follow the rules of the citation style that you are using to determine how to format each citation e.
Instead, every line of the quote should be indented from the left-hand side. Still, many students enter college relying on writing strategies that served them well in high school but that won't serve them well here. Old formulae, such as the five-paragraph theme, aren't sophisticated or flexible enough to provide a sound structure for a college paper. And many of the old tricks - such as using elevated language or repeating yourself so that you might meet a ten-page requirement - will fail you now.
The first thing that you'll need to understand is that writing in college is for the most part a particular kind of writing, called "academic writing. Academic writing is writing done by scholars for other scholars. Writing done by scholars for scholars? Doesn't that leave you out? Now that you are in college you are part of a community of scholars. As a college student, you will be engaged in activities that scholars have been engaged in for centuries: Of course, being a scholar requires that you read, think, argue, and write in certain ways.
Your education will help you to understand the expectations, conventions, and requirements of scholarship. If you read on, so will this Web site. Academic writing is devoted to topics and questions that are of interest to the academic community.
When you write an academic paper, you must first try to find a topic or a question that is relevant and appropriate - not only to you, but to the academic community of which you are now a part.
But how do you know when a topic is relevant and appropriate to this community? First of all, pay attention to what your professor is saying. She will certainly be giving you a context into which you can place your questions and observations. Second, understand that your paper should be of interest to other students and scholars.
Remember that academic writing must be more than personal response. You must write something that your readers will find useful. In other words, you will want to write something that helps your reader to better understand your topic, or to see it in a new way. This brings us to our final point: Academic writing should present the reader with an informed argument. To construct an informed argument, you must first try to sort out what you know about a subject from what you think about a subject.
Or, to put it another way, you will want to consider what is known about a subject and then to determine what you think about it. If your paper fails to inform, or if it fails to argue, then it will fail to meet the expectations of the academic reader.
When you sit down to write an academic paper, you'll first want to consider what you know about your topic. Different writing assignments require different degrees of knowing.
A short paper written in response to a viewing of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, for example, may not require you to be familiar with Hitchcock's other works. It may not even require you to have mastered the terms important to film criticism - though clearly any knowledge you bring to the film might help you to make a thoughtful response to it. However, if you are asked to write an academic paper on the film, then you will want to know more.
You will want to have certain terms in hand so that you can explain what Hitchcock is doing in key moments. You will want to be familiar with Hitchcock's other films so that you can understand what themes are important to him and his work. Moreover, if you are watching this film in an upper-level film class, you will want to be aware of different critical perspectives on Hitchcock's films and on films in general, so that you can "place" your argument within the larger ongoing conversation.
You'll discover as you consider the questions listed above that you are moving beyond what you know about a topic and are beginning to consider what you think. In the process of really thinking about your topic, your aim is to come up with a fresh observation. After all, it's not enough to summarize in a paper what is already known and talked about. You must also add something of your own to the conversation.
Understand, however, that "adding something of your own" is not an invitation simply to bring your own personal associations, reactions, or experiences to the reading of a text. To create an informed argument, you must first recognize that your writing should be analytical rather than personal.
In other words, your writing must show that your associations, reactions, and experiences of a text have been framed in a critical, rather than a personal, way. First, summarize what the primary text is saying.
You'll notice that you can construct several different summaries, depending on your agenda. Returning to the example of Hitchcock's film, you might make a plot summary, a summary of its themes, a summary of its editing, and so on. You can also summarize what you know about the film in context.
In other words, you might write a summary of the difficulties Hitchcock experienced in the film's production, or you might write a summary of how this particular movie complements or challenges other films in the Hitchcock canon.
You can also summarize what others have said about the film. Film critics have written much about Hitchcock, his films, and their genre. Try to summarize all that you know. The process of evaluation is an ongoing one. Evaluating a text is different from simply reacting to a text. When you evaluate for an academic purpose, it is important to be able to clearly articulate and to support your own personal response.
What in the text is leading you to respond a certain way? What's not in the text that might be contributing to your response? Watching Hitchcock's film, you are likely to have found yourself feeling anxious, caught up in the film's suspense. What in the film is making you feel this way? Can you point to a moment in the film that is particularly successful in creating suspense?
In asking these questions, you are straddling two intellectual processes: Constructing an informed argument asks you first to analyze - that is, to consider the parts of your topic and then to examine how these parts relate to each other or to the whole.
To analyze Hitchcock's film, you may want to break the film down by examining particular scenes, point of view, camera movements, and so on.
In short, you'll want to ask: What are the components of Hitchcock's film, and how do these components contribute to the film's theme? How do they contribute to Hitchcock's work as a whole? When you analyze, you break the whole into parts so that you might see the whole differently. In the process of analysis, you find things that you might say. When you analyze, you break down a text into its parts.
When you synthesize, you look for connections between ideas. Consider once again the Hitchcock film. In analyzing this film, you might come up with elements that seem initially disparate.
You may have some observations that at first don't seem to gel. Or you may have read various critical perspectives on the film, all of them in disagreement with one another. Now would be the time to consider whether these disparate elements or observations might be reconciled, or synthesized.
This intellectual exercise requires that you create an umbrella argument - some larger argument under which several observations and perspectives might stand. Many students writing in college have trouble figuring out what constitutes an appropriate topic. Sometimes the professor will provide you with a prompt.
She will give you a question to explore, or a problem to resolve. When you are given a prompt by your professor, be sure to read it carefully. Your professor is setting the parameters of the assignment for you. She is telling you what sort of paper will be appropriate. In many cases, however, the professor won't provide you with a prompt. She might not even give you a topic. For example, in a psychology course you might be asked to write a paper on any theory or theories of self.
Your professor has given you a subject, but she has not given you a topic. Nor has she told you what the paper should look like. Should it summarize one of the theories of self? Should it compare two or more theories? Should it place these theories into some historical context? Should it take issue with these theories, pointing out their limitations? At this juncture, you have two options:
Academic writing is devoted to topics and questions that are of interest to the academic community. When you write an academic paper, you must first try to find a topic or a question that is relevant and appropriate - not only to you, but to the academic community of which you are now a part.
So here’s a primer written for college students on how to write an academic paper, though some of the advice would be useful for anybody writing anything. The author is Steven Horwitz, a professor of economics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.
An effective academic writing style is an essential part of a university education. Poorly written papers detract from your ability to effectively share. The writer of the academic essay aims to persuade readers of an idea based on evidence. The beginning of the essay is a crucial first step in this process. In order to engage readers and establish your authority, the beginning of your essay has to accomplish certain business. Your beginning should introduce the essay, focus it, and orient readers.
Methods of study for conducting academic research and writing an academic paper might differ according to the subject and level of study but the basic structure of academic papers, following basic characteristics of academic writing remains more or less the same. Jul 18, · How to Write an Academic Essay Five Parts: Following the Instructions for Your Assignment Researching Your Topic Constructing Your Essay Polishing Your Essay Sample Essays Community Q&A Being able to write a strong academic essay 91%(14).