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Help with the Academic Writing Process

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

If you are like most students, writing assignments can seem overwhelming as you consider what to write and how to write it. Not only do you have to choose a topic, create a thesis, critique research, and decide what information to include for support, you also have to worry about the writing process itself. This is where concerns for grammar, usage, punctuation, organization, sentence structure, word choice, spelling, formatting, and citations come into play.

However, if you divide the academic writing process into mini-goals to be conquered one at a time, your writing efficiency and quality will improve.

The information below will help you focus on one writing task at a time when facing an academic writing assignment, which will ease your stress, simplify the process, and improve the outcome.

Here Is Your Academic Writing Strategic Plan!

Following these steps in the order they are presented will alleviate the stress of academic writing, especially for students inexperienced with lengthy research papers or returning students who have gotten rusty due to a break in learning.

1. Review the writing assignment, its requirements, and rubric

  • Make sure you understand the assignment and its purpose

  • Ask your instructor questions until you are fully clear on the assignment

2. Select your topic

3. Start your first round of research

  • Keep your mind open to what you learn so you formulate an effective thesis

  • Take general notes, and keep track of sources you reference and plan to use for more in-depth research later on

  • Make sure there are enough sources available on this topic

4. Draft a working thesis and make sure it aligns with the assignment and purpose

5. Create a loose outline of your main points that will support your thesis

  • Make sure all of your main points relate back to your thesis

  • Body paragraphs should support the introductory paragraph’s thesis

6. Conduct further research

  • Jot facts, statistics, data, direct quotations, presented ideas, and supporting information on note cards (or use digital note cards) that you can re-order or put to the side as your paper takes shape

  • Keep track of all sources, which you can do by making a list of your sources, including all of the information you will need for your in-text citations and works cited page/bibliography; do this easily by assigning each source a number, recording all of the publication information for that source, then jotting that number on any note cards referencing that source

7. Create a more detailed outline of paragraphs you plan to write

8. Decide which of your note cards fit in which paragraphs and number them to correspond with the paragraph(s) they pertain to

9. Write your first draft

  • Just write a very basic introduction with your thesis for now; you can rewrite it later as your paper takes shape

  • Focus on content, your main points, and incorporating your sources in the body paragraphs

  • Do not worry about grammar, usage, punctuation, word choice, and other aspects of writing at this point; you will do a rewriting phase later

10. Rewrite your introduction and then write your conclusion

11. Revise your draft

  • Read over your content for accuracy and to make sure it supports your thesis

  • Make sure your writing is focused

  • Double check that you have properly cited the sources you have referenced in your writing

  • Review your formatting to make sure it meets all requirements

  • Compose your works cited page or bibliography

  • Check your grammar, usage, punctuation, word choice, organization, sentence structure, and spelling

  • Have someone else review your paper with a fresh set of eyes

All About Writing is here to help with your academic writing needs, from initial topic brainstorming and topic selection to source citation and revising your final draft. We are familiar with formatting and citations in the MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style.

- Christa


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