Ten Strategies for Excellence in Academic Writing
strategy one question what the assignment is really asking
technique recognize the type of academic writing
recognize the type of academic writing summary “Your goal in summarizing a text is to articulate an author’s main idea and key points as simply and briefly as possible without sacrificing accuracy.“ Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook . Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009, page 474
recognize the type of academic writing analysis “Whereas a summary most often answers the question of what a text says, an analysis looks at how a text makes its point.” “Typically, your analysis will be in the form of an essay that makes its own argument about an author’s text.” Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook . Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009, pages 475 and 476
recognize the type of academic writing synthesis analysis The synthesis analysis is an analysis that incorporates several, rather than just one, text.
recognize the type of academic writing methodology These writing assignments include the annotations in an annotated bibliography and the reflections in a essay on the writing process. They, too, require summary and analytical skills.
recognize the type of academic writing researched writing “When writing … [a] paper that is based on sources, you face three main challenges: (1) supporting a thesis, (2) citing your sources and avoiding plagiarism, and (3) integrating quotations and other source material. Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook . Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009, page 586
strategy two assess where to start Ask yourself, “What do I already know?” and “What do I have to learn before I can get started?”.
strategy three build a knowledge base Consider your existing knowledge and the gaps you would like to fill through additional reading. Remember that research can be important even when an assignment does not require it.
technique use (quality) reference sources Consult online and print reference sources to clarify terminology, make connections to other knowledge areas, and introduce key topics in scholarship Ask a librarian to suggest especially useful subject-specific reference sources for your topic
strategy four engage in thinking as pre-writing Form your position and begin to develop what will become your claim or thesis statement A “claim” is synonymous with other terms you may have heard in the past such as position or thesis
strategy five draft a starting claim Shape the ideas you have collected into a four-part claim
claim: 1. subject matter 2. personal position 3. direction or purpose 4. methodology Your four-part claim should include the topic to be covered (1.), the position you will take on that topic (2.), how you will develop that topic and position (3.), and the organizational strategy you will implement (4.)
At this stage in the research process, you’re ready to find prospective sources through database and catalog searches
strategy six use writing as thinking and thinking as writing Your claim and how it will develop will change as you write and learn Use an annotated bibliography for your own organization; don’t just find sources but identify for yourself how they might be useful
strategy seven re-envision the plan Continually question the steps you are laying out in your paper to develop your claim
At this stage in the research process, you know exactly what information you need to defend your well-articulated claim; ask a librarian for assistance with refining your searches and locating hard-to-find information
strategy eight begin constructing the final paper Present the claim and the methodology you’ll use to support it and begin to implement that methodology
strategy nine frame other voices within an analysis of your claim Introduce an idea. Then, introduce an expert or evidence is support of it. Finally, analyze that expertise or evidence.
strategy ten transition from your expectations to established expectations Comply with format requirements. Check the length of the paragraphs. Give the paper a title. Prepare citations as instructed.
Reference Services Writing Center Librarians who provide research help and tutors who help with topic development and organizing ideas into a cohesive, well-written paper are both available on the second floor of the Information Commons