Writing is a vital skill that is central to a successful academic career. Considering how common academic writing is in universities and colleges, being able to write compelling essays, reports, and research papers will considerably improve your grades.
While it is undoubtedly true that you can’t just become an excellent academic writer overnight, there is a set of essential tips that can help you write much, much better. By following these recommendations, you’ll be able to achieve better flow, have the right mindset, and avoid common mistakes. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
1. Understand your task
This is an essential step you need to take before you even start writing. It is commonly known that academic texts are intricate, detailed, and demand a very meticulous approach. In order not to waste time and effort, it’s imperative to take your time and get a better understanding of what the task implies.
There’s nothing shameful in asking questions when you feel like you didn’t entirely understand the task, so it’s ok to double-check with your professor. On the contrary, it would be silly to invest all that time and effort into a task we don’t entirely understand.
Similarly, it’s important to establish the entire list of literature you need to consult before you start working on your paper. This will allow you to be more informed on the subject matter and write with more confidence.
2. Don’t start without a clear outline
Before you start working on your piece, you need to establish all the points you’re going to cover within your paper, their progression, and order. This is pretty much an attempt of giving your text a logical structure, it’s a common practice among best academic writing sites. To do that, try following these five essential steps:
- Start with the very root of the issue — ask the central question of your paper and write down a detailed answer to it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be excellent, it just needs to cover your viewpoint on the topic at hand.
- When you’ve written down your central thesis, write down all the arguments you have to support your viewpoint and the reasons why you find it to be the most valid answer.
- As soon as you’ve written them down, think about structure. Are all the ideas worth presenting in your paper? If so, why? Eliminate all the weak arguments from your list.
- The ideas that you’ve filtered out are going to be the central points of your paper. You are to organize your text around them.
- Establish what the best order of these points is. Are you going to present these ideas in chronological order, or will you follow a cause-and-effect approach? Will you present your most persuasive arguments at the very beginning, or will you leave them for the end?
Once you’ve gone through these five steps, you’ll have a very clear understanding what the structure of your paper will look like.
3. Use transition words
Transition words allow to smoothly move from one idea or topic of discussion to another in a coherent manner. Transitions are imperative with any type of writing, yet they are a crucial component of a well-written academic paper.
These words are essential to help your readers to navigate the complex ideas presented in your paper easily. Below, we’ve compiled a set of frequently used transitional words and expressions that allow you to guide your readers through your ideas:
- to commence – first off, to begin with
- to introduce one more concept – additionally, furthermore, similarly
- to introduce a dominant idea – more importantly,
- to introduce a final point – finally, most of all, lastly
- to add a contrasting idea – however, on the other hand
- to emphasize the outcome of a point – therefore, as a result
4. Don’t write in one sitting
There is a common misconception behind multitasking, and it’s that it makes you more productive, which is entirely false. Working on a broad set of tasks at the same time is most definitely appealing; however, the process isn’t just unproductive, it’s really damaging to our nervous system.
Multitasking should rather be compared to a trap, rather than something advantageous. From an evolutionary standpoint, people are good at working on a single task at a time.
“What does that have to do with writing?” you may ask. Well, writing, proofreading, and editing at the same time is a writer’s form of multitasking. It’s always best to invest your attention in one process at a time.
Ideally, if you approach writing correctly by focusing on a single type of work and not getting distracted by other processes, you’ll be able to enter a flow state, which will considerably increase your output.
When finished, ask the right questions:
- Do you feel like you’ve adequately unpacked your ideas?
- Do you think your essay has good structure?
- Do the first few paragraphs provide enough information to initiate the reader?
- Do you think that the evidence you’ve provided is compelling?
- Does the conclusion support the same claim as the introductory statement?
- Do you think your style has been consistent throughout the piece?
- Have you checked for grammatical and stylistic mistakes?
Academic writing can be complicated. However, by following these simple tips, you’ll be able to successfully increase your efficiency when working on your papers and decrease the time you spend on editing and structuring.
Steven is a passionate writer, dedicated to traveling and teaching people to lead a better life. He’s an English Literature graduate that has dedicated most of his time to writing and teaching people to do so. Steven is currently an editor for Rated By Students.