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The Process of Writing a Paper: Writing Concerns The Dalhousie Writing Centre
Planning & Writing PapersSteps in the writing process 1. Planning the paper 2. Deciding on a topic 3. Making an outline 4. Researching the topic 5. Drafting the paper 6. RevisingRemember that these steps do not have to go in this order. The writing process is usually messy and recursive rather than organized and linear.
What is an academic paper? An academic paper is…• A work that shows your originality• Something that synthesizes your ideas• A document that uses the work of others (sources)It is not …• A summary, a repetition of other people’s ideas, a series of quotes, or an expression of your own ideas only, etc.
Steps to writing a research paper1. Planning the paper – understand the topic • Clarify length, scope, format, and style • Determine the point of view • Identify the type of resources available • Investigate penalties (for being late)2. Making a time line • Don’t procrastinate! • Use the assignment calculator http://www.library.dal.ca/how/calculator/
Making an outline (a plan of action)" Make a plan – very early" Use the plan to know what to research for" Change the plan (modify) it if you find the research pushes you in another direction" Use the plan to keep the elements on your topic" Not everybody needs an outline – at this stage
Researching the topic" This entails: " Locating sources – books and data bases " Evaluating those sources – date, credibility, peer reviewed, etc. " Selecting relevant information – skimming & scanning material, deciding if the info supports your topic " Making notes – carefully
Writing the draft" There’s no getting around it: this is the hard part." Set aside the time. Don’t let things or people interfere." Write in any sequence that you would like." Some people suspend their spell and grammar checkers." Some people “talk out” their ideas on paper." Use “Insert/Comment” to keep track of source information.
Revising the paper" Re-read the assignment’s directions" Read your topic sentence again" Start to read through the paper looking for 1. organization and transitions 2. overall impression (Is it convincing?) 3. surface correctness (grammar, mechanics, punctuation) Read it aloud!!! Make an appointment at the Writing Centre (494-1963)
Things that drive markers crazy1. Introductions and thesis statements: No real thesis, a too-broad thesis, or a good thesis that doesn’t get discussed in the paper2. Body text 1. Poor evidence – not from the field, too general, not discussed enough in your own words, not cited properly, unrelated to the thesis 2. No coherence or flow – ideas seem to be dropped into the discussion, no argument (just ideas), no attempt at linking things (transitions), etc.
Other things that drive them crazy…1. No effort to be concise – (saying something using too many words)2. No effort to proofread or edit work – use grammar and spell checkers, read your work aloud, read it to somebody3. No sensitivity to wording – poor word choices4. Little attempt to integrate source material in a way that emphasizes your knowledge or your ideas5. Wrong tone – too informal or too formal6. Weak conclusions – fade into black
Referencing: avoiding plagiarism" Know which style your professor prefers – use it! (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.)" Use your reference book (library site, too)" http://plagiarism.dal.ca/" Footnotes/endnotes or in-text referencing" Quotations: use quotation marks and reference" Indirect quotations/paraphrases – no marks, but must be referenced" Works cited, references, bibliography
ResourcesProfessors, teaching assistants, and librariansWriting Centre – G40C in the Killam Learning Commons • Call 494-1963 or firstname.lastname@example.orgInternet information/guides e.g. • http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/ #effectiveHandbooks: • Instant Access • A Canadian Writer’s Reference • Fit to Print • The Canadian Style