academic writing
Keep these tips in mind when writing academic papers and you'll soon be a pro. Source: Marc Wattrelot/AFP

For most university students, a significant amount of time in a semester is typically spent writing academic papers.

It’s important to master this skill, as it will help you in your future career no matter which field you end up in.

Writing academically helps you learn how to be an effective communicator, think analytically and critically, and organise your thoughts in a clear and concise manner.

For international students without strong English writing skills, it will also help them become better writers and master the English language.

Here are some tips to help international students write strong academic papers confidently.

Start with an outline

It can be daunting for an international student assigned an extensive academic paper, especially for the first time, so it’s best to take it one step at a time.

The first thing you should do once you know the topic and have done some brainstorming is to come up with an outline. This will help you structure your paper and organise your ideas in paragraphs so that you don’t get stuck during the writing process.

Check out your library and international office too as they may have tutors on hand to help you with this process.

Do your research

A key component of academic writing is extensive research. It may be tedious but spending time on research will make your paper more solid.

Do your reseach right and you’ll be acing your assignments. Source: Justin Sullivan/AFP

Academic writing typically requires you to write in an informative manner using evidence, without including your own personal opinions.

To avoid making sweeping statements and generalisations – which could lead to losing marks on your paper – it’s important to do proper research so you can provide evidence in your writing.

You should also ensure you’re citing your sources properly within the document and in the bibliography, as well.

When in doubt, approach your librarian. They’re usually very happy to help!

Keep it simple and concise

Creative souls may find it difficult to switch gears when writing academically, but it’s necessary to do so as academic writing doesn’t require flowery language or jargon.

Academic writing is meant to be informative, so it’s best to keep your language concise, easy to read, and straight to the point.

Proofread and edit

So you’ve done your research, written your paper and are feeling accomplished, but wait! You will still need to check your work, so make sure not to miss this step.

Good writers know the value of proofreading and editing your work. So once you’re done writing, make sure to proofread and fact-check so you won’t lose valuable marks over simple mistakes.

Catch a friend to proofread and discuss your paper with you. Pizzas most recommended for this bonding-slash-productive sesh. Source: AFP/Drew Angerer

The first draft will almost always require editing – even for the most advanced writers – so be prepared to spend some time editing your work.

It is also a good idea to have a friend or classmate proofread your paper as it’s good practice to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at it. In return, offer to do the same for them.

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