- Develop a topic by understanding the assignment requirements, exploring background information, and forming a working thesis
- Conduct research using scholarly sources, taking critical notes and reading closely
- Create a thesis statement and outline of arguments that will form the essay
- Write the essay and integrate research evidence with properly formatted citations and references
- Edit, review and revise your thesis, outline, and writing for grammatical errors and common structural and stylistic mistakes
Welcome to the RGO Library’s guide to writing academic essays. This guide presents tips, methods, and strategies for writing a good research paper or essay with a 5 step process:
“Did you know that 7 out of 10 students have cheated at least once in the past year? Did you know that 50 percent of those students have cheated more than twice? These shocking statistics are from a survey of 9,000 U.S. high school students. Incredibly, teachers may even be encouraging their students to cheat! Last year at a school in Detroit, teachers allegedly provided their students with answers to statewide standard tests.”
“Gun control has been a controversial issue for years. A vast majority of citizens believe that if gun control is strictly enforced, it would quickly reduce the threat of crime. Many innocent people feel they have the right to bear arms for protection, or even for the pleasure of hunting. These people are penalized for protecting their lives, or even for enjoying a common, innocent sport. To enforce gun control throughout the nation means violating a person’s Constitutional rights. Although some people feel that the issue of gun control will limit crime, the issue should not exist due to the fact that guns are necessary for self defense against crime, and enforcing gun control is violating a citizen’s second amendment right to bear arms.”
It’s helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don’t, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)
Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:
This is the first paragraph of your essay. This is where the writer introduces his topic for the very first time. You can give a very brief synopsis of your essay in the introductory paragraph. Some paragraph writing skills can be a help here. Generally, it is not very long, about 4-6 lines.
Usually, we have a lot of information to provide in the body. And the mistakes writers generally make is to go about it in a haphazard manner which leaves the reader confused. So it is important to organize your thoughts and content. Write the information in a systematic flow so that the reader can comprehend. So, for example, you were narrating an incident. The best manner to do this would be to go in a chronological order.
Though more advanced academic papers are a category all their own, the basic high school or college essay has the following standardized, five paragraph structure:
You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception: the first few words. These words are example of a transitional phrase – others include “furthermore,” “moreover,” but also “by contrast” and “on the other hand” – and are the hallmark of good writing.