An Ultimate Guide to Write Academic Papers for College Students
Do you find it a struggle to write academic papers, or are your papers perpetually grade low? Although the fundamentals of writing good papers are taught in the first year, many college students struggle until the end of their college years. But writing high-grade college papers with ease is possible if you take the time to understand the structure. The principles of a good academic paper remain the same across different subjects. How can you write a good paper each time?
Understand Types of Papers
There are two kinds of academic papers; research papers and topic papers. A research paper gives you the leeway to write on different relevant research topics. Topic papers revolve around a given topic that is based on course readings.
Understanding this difference is important in staying relevant and doing what is needed. You have to show that you can apply what you have read in the course in either type of paper. While you have a freer hand with a research paper, the research material must be properly cited and attributed.
Start With an Outline
The proper structure for a good paper should have the following elements regardless of required length;
- Introduction – This has the thesis question, relevance of the topic, and the main supporting points
- Background – This is where you set up the reader’s mind. This may have a brief history of developments in the topic.
- First body paragraph – This should have a transition and expound on the first main point
- Second paragraph
- Third paragraph – Each argument should have a paragraph. You can add or reduce the paper’s length by limiting or adding your arguments
- Rebuttal – This is where you rehash the main points. You can leave it out to reduce the paper’s length
- Conclusion – This puts together the whole argument in a summary, without any new information. You should also show how your arguments support the thesis question.
- Citations – Be careful to cite and attribute all material that is not originally yours.
An outline helps you fill out the paper, and helps you keep the paper coherent, without repeating your arguments.
Research the Topic
The library was once the center of research. It still holds most of the material you will need. Relying on Google to supply all your research material is a no-no. Wikipedia sources are also highly frowned upon. You should use search engines for initial research rather than the full body of work.
Make use of your college’s research database. Some databases are available to use for academic work. Good examples include Web of Science and Academic Search Complete. You will find millions of texts in any subject for writing rich college papers.
You should remember to note down your sources as you go along. Always keep in mind the formatting requirements of the paper. You should take time to understand different citation styles; MLA, APA, Chicago, AMA, IEEE, GSA, and others.
Write the Rough Draft
Writing a rough draft gives you an idea of whether you have adequate research material. You may find that some of your arguments require additional support, while others require trimming. It also gives you a chance to move around points for smoother flow and coherence.
It is also useful to look at past papers from students in the same course to have an idea of what is expected. Keep in mind the basics of good writing which include proper grammar.
Edit as Needed
Read your draft all over and look for any gaps in your arguments, missing citations, and grammatical errors. When you think the paper is perfect, give it to a friend. He/she will point out errors or gaps that you might have overlooked. Some of your arguments could be debunked right away, forcing you to better or replace them.
Write the Final Draft
Write the final draft while keeping in mind formatting requirements in font type and size, margins, spacing, and page numbering.
Writing an excellent academic paper is not as hard as many students falsely believe. Get your research right and the rest will fall in place quite easily. The good thing is that you can use this approach to write papers on different subjects.