Tips For Improving Your Academic Essay Writing

October 28, 2013

custom-essay-writing2Many students struggle in developing the skills to write an academic paper in their post-secondary careers.  In high school, students are often instructed on how to compose descriptive essays, whereas University professors expect their first year pupils to be able formulate an in-depth critical analysis.  Learning how to translate an insightful idea into a clearly presented critical argument that is supported by secondary sources is a daunting task for the majority of post-secondary students.  Below is a list of 5 tips from Stephen K. Donovan’s article “10 Rules for Academic Writing” that are sure to strengthen your academic writing skills and ease the anxiety associated with composing a university/college level research paper.

  1. Always Carry a Notebook: This will act as a safety net for any thoughts or ideas you may have while you are away from your writing space.  By carrying a notebook around, you will be able to document your point and later add it to your paper to improve its overall quality.
  2. Follow a Schedule: Think of your paper as a part-time job. Devote specific periods of time to writing sections of your essay.  Organizing the production of your essay into sections will ensure that time is equally spent developing each point, which will improve the overall quality of your writing.
  3. Write Down Your Goals: Commit. Keeping a schedule will help you fulfill your time-management goals, but remember to also write down any personal improvement goals you want to achieve.  Perhaps it is to improve your thesis composition or maybe to integrate more secondary sources than in a previous paper.  Whatever the goal you are striving for, writing it down externalizes it and solidifies it, increasing your drive to achieve it.
  4. Read Lots: Relying on material that appears on Wikipedia and Sparknotes will limit your scholarly development.  It is important to expand your reading in order to become an expert in your field.  Find material within your subject area as well as anything that interests you.   Reading furthers knowledge which will assist you in communicating ideas within your paper. Whatever you read, you will develop further as an academic writer if you use the facility to be informed and influenced by the styles and ideas of other authors, both good and not so good.
  5. Before You Start Writing, Create a Mind Map:  Mind Maps are, in essence, an outline of your entire essay. You should sketch out the progression of your essay before writing it out to ensure that you will be able to communicate your ideas effectively and also to make sure each paragraph is unified. Use one-line sentences to describe paragraphs and bullet points to describe what each paragraph will contain. Play with the order of your points and explore which organization presents your idea the strongest.


Read the rest of Stephen K. Donovan’s tips here, and check out the Journal of Scholarly Publishing page to find more articles with tips for improving your writing and research skills

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