How to write an academic essay

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If you are a student, you might have experienced writer’s block. It’s that specific feeling when you have an academic essay to write, but you don’t know where to start. Let’s have a look at some of the most important steps you need to do before beginning the writing process itself together. Maybe you feel that ‘block’ usually when you skip at least one of those important steps.

Make connection with the subject

When started working on writing an academic essay or writing a research paper, there are a few things to remember. A successful writing process is not about following a strict formula. An essay is a chance for you to contribute to the current discussion about your topic and challenge yourself. You have to create and frame your questions and answer them from your point of view.

Prove your point

Writing an academic essay is similar to working as a lawyer. Both students and lawyers have to prove their point to someone with evidence from reliable sources.

Let’s imagine a situation. You are a lawyer and have to protect a non-guilty man in court. Even if you know for sure that he is an honorable man, and he would never do whatever he is accused of, it will not be enough for the judge. You can’t persuade the jury with statements based on random belief and opinion. You will have to study the case and find the evidence for your client. As an example, you can provide some camera records.

So, you can see how reliable sources of proof are crucial for protecting your client as a lawyer. It works the same way if you work on writing an academic essay. You have to cite proper sources of the used data. Now you have to remember that there are two types of sources: primary and secondary. Let’s talk about each one in detail.

Primary sources

Primary sources are the most important for your research. Primary academic sources are the ones that have not been previously analyzed by others. Here are some examples of the sources that are primary:

  • autobiographies
  • novels
  • poems
  • diaries
  • census
  • Congressional records
  • transcripts of court cases

The main point here is that if you use a primary source, you analyze the provided data yourself. You have to present your work with this data in your paper.

Secondary sources

Secondary sources are the works of other writers, scientists, etc. They have previously analyzed some data from primary resources and put their work into an article, a book, or some other form of writing. When you use a secondary source, you refer to someone else’s research but not the raw data.

How to work with primary and secondary sources

First, let’s go over the differences between primary and secondary sources once again. When you refer to primary sources, you refer directly to the data given in this source. But when you refer to a secondary source, you refer to someone else’s analysis of the data from the primary source. Not to the data itself.

You may ask, what sources are better to use for your paper? There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but we suggest you use more primary sources. Again, different teachers require different sources in their assignments.

From subject to topic

When you get an assignment, it’s usually not a particular narrow topic, but a pretty abstract subject. Back to the courtroom: there is never the ‘guilt and innocence’ topic or something like that. It usually sounds like ‘The Case of So-and-So v. So-and-So’. So, use the same logic for determining the topic for your essay.

Narrow down the chosen topic

If you leave your topic in the form of something like ‘The Case of So-and-So v. So-and-So’, it is still somewhat general. When looking for a topic for your essay, try to make it as specific as possible.

5 steps to narrow down the topic

  1. Carefully go through the primary sources that you chose and look for a passage that interests you. Make sure to write down the reason for its importance. Note: if you can’t come up with the reason, the passage might not be as important as you thought at first.
  2. Write down your impression of the sources. React to any passages, phrases, and even words. Do not censor your thoughts, and do not be afraid. The thoughts might not add up to much yet.
  3. Once you have the passages and your impressions written down, try to group them into categories. If an idea doesn’t fit anywhere, you should eliminate it. Once you have the categories set, look for relations between them. Maybe they connect or contradict, prove or disprove, echo, etc.
  4. Analyze the connections you’ve made. The category with the most connections to others may be the topic of your essay.
  5. Look for any relevant secondary sources. It might help you to get an opinion of other scholars on the topic you will work with.

Note: when making notes, cite each quote properly. When working on the final draft and formatting your paper, it will be easier to make citations. You will waste a lot of time and sources trying to look for the used quote in the source.

Now you know what the most important steps are to start with before writing your essay or even you know them on how to buy essay safe. In short form, you should:

  • find a connection to the subject and materials to use
  • find proper primary sources
  • go from a general subject to a topic
  • narrow down your topic
  • find proper secondary sources

We hope this algorithm was helpful, and now you will complete this kind of assignment with ease.

Story by Steven Larue


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augusta free press news