How to Write an Academic Paper

  1. Document your frigging sources! ALL of them!!! No matter whether you use direct or indirect quotations. (If you don’t document your sources, your teacher will be p.o. and you will fail the class.)
  2. Prove your statements by referring either to the primary text(s) or to secondary sources.
  3. It helps if you stick to the facts that are mentioned in the primary text: if the hero’s childhood is never mentioned anywhere in the text, analysing the hero’s childhood is … not such a good idea.
  4. Fictional characters are not real people.
  5. Making sweeping statements about the historical background of a literary text is usually not a very good idea either: because if you do, you have not only failed to stick to Rule #2, but in most cases you are also spectacularly wrong.
  6. Logic is a fine thing. Apply it freely and apply it often.
  7. All primary and secondary sources you use in your paper should be listed in the bibliography.
  8. The bibliography is supposed to consist of more than one secondary source.
  9. To get the form and formatting right, it helps to have a look at the style sheet. Really, it does. And style sheets generally don’t bite.
  10. In English, third-person singular present tense verbs in the indicative end with an s: he/she/it runs, weeps, cries, laughs, hits, etc. Just saying.

Yup. I’m back to correcting seminar papers. “Earnest is the life, funny is the art.” Indeed.

One thought on “How to Write an Academic Paper

Comments are closed.