This handout provides some tips and strategies for writing academic essays. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.
Writing academic essays is required for the successful completion of college, graduate school, and advanced research studies. Essay writing, as required in academia, requires much more preparation, effort, and skill than most students and academics actually do put in. For students, poorly written academic essays may result in failure of a college or graduate-level course, whereas academics may have their papers rejected by journal editors, and consequently face the risk of losing grants and the opportunity to share their results from years of research with the world. This blog provides 10 resourceful tips for students and academics to master the art of writing academic essays and enhance the communication of their science.
Tip 1. Assess the extent of work required for writing academic essays
Before writing academic essays, the author has to assess the extent of work needed, as different types of essays require different levels of preparation, resources, skill, and effort. This assessment should be conducted at the initial stages of writing academic essays. The best time to start is when ideas and perspectives are still fresh. It is important to consider available time, resources, and data. Failure to conduct this assessment exposes the student or academic to the risk of being overwhelmed by the extent of work needed and may lead to missing deadlines.
Tip 2. Set a timeline for writing academic essays
After assessing the extent of work needed, plan and stick to a suitable timeline with the deadline in focus. Usually, longer timelines are allocated for writing academic essays. Due to this, one may procrastinate on tasks. At best, do not procrastinate, but if you do, be cautious to commence work at a time that would align with the assessment made, as explained above.
Tip 3. Gather and organize resources
Academic essays are written based on reference to resources like books, journal articles, news items, interviews, and databases, to inform the thoughts expressed. It would be expedient to find enough resources at an early stage and on a daily basis. With this approach, one can find more than enough resources for writing academic essays and further prevent constructing skewed arguments. These resources should be organized in named folders to facilitate retrieval whenever needed.
Tip 4. Read resources extensively
In writing academic essays, extensive reading of resources stays essential to the success of essays. In college and graduate school, essays are usually required to assess students’ thought processes after reading from literature. Therefore, failure on the part of students to read resources extensively, defeats this purpose. In addition, reading abstracts and introductory paragraphs only makes one prone to under-information and misinformation, as abstracts and introductory paragraphs and sections only provide summaries. To gather accurate information for writing academic essays, the author must not forego the discussion section in academic research articles.
Tip 5. Note relevant information and cite resources
The author must note information that will potentially aid in the synthesis of the essay. The risk involved in omitting or misquoting essential data from resources is reduced when such information is documented. Intellectual property is highly regarded in academia; thus, plagiarism should not be tolerated when writing academic essays. To avoid plagiarism, one must concurrently cite resources at this stage of the writing process. Consequently, compliance with this tip eases the author of extraneous work during the proofreading and editing stage.
Tip 6. Synthesize thoughts, analyze without bias, and take a stance, where necessary
After reading from literature’s pool of diverse thoughts, findings, and ideas, the author must now rightly synthesize his/her thoughts, analyze data and findings, and consequently decide on a conclusion based on evidence. A reader usually looks out for the author’s perspective on an issue; the author must, therefore, devote time to constructing a well-informed and meaningful argument.
Tip 7. Write academic essays in bits
Writing academic essays in one sitting is not advisable. Besides the reality that writing for longer hours results in fatigue, the thought process may be affected. Writing in bits helps give much thought to every portion of the essay at each point in time. Using this approach ensures that one’s intended meaning is clearly expressed. If the author conducts an assessment and sets a timeline, he/she will not need to endure long consecutive hours in writing academic essays. An allocation of days and hours, depending on the expected essay length, should be encouraged.
Tip 8. Read and reassess the content of the completed piece
After writing academic essays, re-read the essay adequately to reassess the analysis and logical progression in the expression of thoughts based on the data and resources gathered. At this point, one should aim at confirming whether one’s essay would fulfill the demands of the scientific process.
Tip 9. Format the essay as required in writing academic essays
At this point, all quality assurance procedures, with respect to content, would have been performed. Unlike other writings, academic essays are usually written and organized according to certain specified formats, which vary according to formatting requirements of different journals and academic courses. Mostly, authors focus on citations and references, leaving other parts of the essay, during formatting. One must do well to format title pages, abstracts, body, references, tables, figures, and supplementary materials adequately.
Tip 10. Consult a second party for proofreading and editing
When writing academic essays, a second party’s assessment, proofreading, or editing can reduce syntax and grammatical errors. Although friends and family may be helpful, the finesse and transformation provided by a professional proofreading and editing service cannot be overemphasized. Please read the following blogs to understand why one should not proceed to the submission stage without consulting the services of a professional proofreader and editor: ” Achieve What You Want with Academic Editing and Proofreading and Why Do You Need Academic Editing” blog
Following these practical tips diligently should progress a manuscript into a published journal article.
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