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Academic Writing: Start Writing

This LibGuide was designed to provide you with assistance in citing your sources when writing an academic paper.

The Writing Process

     When you write in an academic writing style, you don't write as you would normally speak. You avoid using more informal language, such as slang or colloquialisms, or contractions. You structure your language carefully, using complete sentences and paragraphs. Although bulleted lists are also acceptable, they shouldn't be overused, because your writing would start to look like it was just notes.

  Writing is a process that involves several  steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. It is known as a recursive process. While you are revising, you might have to return to the prewriting step to develop and expand your ideas.

Prewriting

      Prewriting is anything you do before you write a draft of your document. Actually this part is about the Research Process that  includes thinking, taking notes, talking to others, brainstorming, outlining, and gathering information.

Freewriting: To freewrite, you write about a topic for a timed period of about ten minutes. Forget about grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Just sit and write freely. If you have nothing to say, write, "I have nothing to say," until you do say something. The result of such freewriting will be sense mixed with nonsense, but gradually you'll find yourself warming up to the topic.

Brainstorming: Brainstorming is an exercise in thinking. You simply list every thougt that pops into your head about a particular topic. Don't try to write in sentence. Don't worry about logic or whether your ideas are good or bad. Just jot down your thoughts. You can always sort them out later.

Outline: The outline is the body of your paper. Aids in the process of writing and helps organize your ideas. 

  • Presents your material in a logical form
  • Shows the relationships among ideas in your writing
  • Constructs an ordered overview of your writing
  • Defines boundaries and groups

.The typical outline should comprise:

  • The statement of your thesis
  • The most important points of your argument
  • Sub-points of your topic
  • The evidence for each topic of the argument

Remember: creating an outline before writing your paper will make organizing your thoughts a lot easier. Whether you follow the suggested guidelines is up to you, but making any kind of outline (even just some jotting down some main ideas) will be beneficial to your writing process.

See Sample on "Writing the Paper"

Drafting

        The next stage is composing or drafting. Once you have finished planning your work, you are ready to start on the first writing of it. This is when you turn your notes into sentences and paragraphs, and is often called the first draft or rough draft.

  • Dont expect perfection
  • Write what you can
  • Write in a natural style
  • Write the introduction last

As you go over your prewriting notes, think about the specific words and images that will help your readers understand the nature of your topic and visualize what you´re trying to express.

Try to do your writing on a computer in order to make it easier to change and correct whatever you need to. If you prefer to use paper, then double-space your writing, this will allow you to make corrections and changes more easily.

     

    Revising

             Revision is the key to successful writing. Once you have completed the your first draft, you should look for ways to improve your work. This part of the writing process is generally called revising. At this stage of the writing process, you look more deeply into your ideas, consider the implications of the evidence or data you have collected, and you locate gaps in information or logic that need to be filled so that your readers can understand your points more fully. When you revise, you revise ideas, you revise style, and you revise for your readers.

      1. After you have written several drafts of your paper, and you think you are basically finished, you should proofread your paper to catch any grammar, spelling, and format errors. 
      2. Revision is the key to effective documents. Here you think more deeply about your readers' needs and expectations. The document becomes reader-centered. How much support will each idea need to convince your readers? Which terms should be defined for these particular readers? Is your organization effective?
      3. At this stage you also refine your prose, making each sentence as concise and accurate as possible. Make connections between ideas explicit and clear.

      At this point you may use Evaluation Check List on Handouts page.

      Editing

             Editing is the final step in the writing process. After reviewing the document as a whole, you should consider numerous elements: mechanics, parts of speech, punctuation, sentences, transitions, and word choice.

      1. Check for such things as grammar, mechanics, and spelling. The last thing you should do before printing your document is to spell check it.
      2. Don't edit your writing until the other steps in the writing process are complete.

      Remember! A little time spent editing and reviewing can improve your finished writing and boost your marks. So try to do it!

      Writing Tips

      • Aim to be clear, concise and precise.
      • Look at research publications in your subject area for an idea of the writing style used.
      • In general, aim for an objective, impersonal style, avoiding the more personal "I" or "we".
      • Structure your language formally, using complete sentences and paragraphs.
      • Avoid using contractions, colloquialisms or slang.
      • Be "cautious" or tentative where appropriate.
      • Clearly reference the work of others.
      • Proofread for writing style and clarity, as well as grammar and spelling.

      Editing tips

      • Try to leave a short gap between when you finish the writing and when you go back to review. This means you will look at it with a fresh eye. Pressures of time may make this difficult to achieve, but if you can do it, it really is worth it.
      • Don't try to read for meaning and check the spelling and grammar at the same time. If your brain is searching for meaning, it tends to ignore spelling mistakes! So you need to check these separately.
      • If you can, get someone else to proofread your essay. They will notice things you don't see because you know what you mean and you are too close to it.
      • Some students find it useful to read their assignments aloud, because sometimes they hear things they don't see.

      Introduction and Conclusion

      After drafting the body of the paper, draft a short introduction that leads up to your thesis. 

      Check your Assignment to see if your instructor has any special requirements for the paper’s introduction. 

      General advice on what makes a good introduction.

      Now draft a short concluding paragraph.

      Check your Assignment to see if your instructor has any special requirements for the paper's concluding paragraph.

      General advice on what makes a good conclusion.