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Tools for Academic Writing: Academic Writing

This guide contains resources to improve academic writing including: Literature Reviews, Annotated Bibliographies, Writing in Various Disciplines, and Giving Peer Feedback.
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What is Academic Writing?

 Academic Writing

When writing academic papers for your college classes, you will need to go beyond the basic five-paragraph essays you  learned in high school. College writing requires consideration of the how and why questions, and you will need to make  your own interpretations about a topic and do research to support your ideas.

The basic process for writing an academic paper is three steps: prewriting, writing, and revision.

Prewriting: Choose your topic and Research
The first basic step when you have an assignment is to choose your topic. Try to narrow the focus of your topic; if you pick something too general, you will have too much material to go through in your research and difficulty creating a strong argument.

The second prewriting step is conducting your research. When searching for sources, break down your topic into the most important key terms to use as keywords in your search. When you find a useful source, you can also check the cited references to find more related research. 

Once you find relevant sources, go through them, analyzing them as you read to discover major themes and connections. Make notes about important points in each source. These notes will come in handy when you build your outline and write your paper.

Writing: Develop a Thesis, Use your Research, and Explain your Interpretation
When writing an academic paper, one of the most important things you will write is your thesis. The thesis has the ability to assert, control, and structure your entire argument. In general, a good thesis will do the following:

  • Make a claim.
  • Define the scope of your argument.
  • Shape your argument.

After you develop a strong thesis, you can let your thesis guide you in writing the rest of your paper. Remember to think about the organization and structure of the information you present and to include both evidence to support your claims and explanations of your interpretation of the information.

Revision is more than just fixing errors in your paper. Revising your paper means considering your paper as a whole and deciding if certain sections, or the whole paper, needs to be rethought or rewritten. When revising your paper, think about these points:

  • Did I fulfill the assignment?
  • Did I say what I intended to say?
  • What are the strengths of my paper?
  • What are the weaknesses of my paper?
  • Consider your introduction; your thesis; your structure; your paragraphs; your argument and logic; and your conclusion.
  • Give yourself enough time to revise.
  • Get a second opinion: ask someone to read over your paper and give you feedback, like a classmate or a writing tutor.

5 Steps of the Academic Writing Process

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement

APA Sample Paper and Guide 

MLA Sample Paper and Guide

Links for Academic Writing

Park University Library
8700 NW River Park Drive, Box 61 - Parkville, MO - 64152
Phone: (816) 584-6285
Toll-free: (800) 270-4347