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Writing Papers

Writing an academic paper in the U.S. may differ greatly from the types of papers you wrote in your home country. U.S. professors tend to emphasize original ideas, critical thinking skills and specific writing structures depending on the class. 

When you are assigned a paper for a class, here are some tips for getting started:

  • Make sure you understand the task. If you have questions, ask the instructor.
  • Design a schedule for completing the project and be on time.
  • Library research always takes more time than you think, so plan accordingly.
  • Academic writing is generally logical and progressive. Because discourse styles differ from culture to culture, you may need to make some adjustments in your writing style. If you have questions, ask your instructor or make an appointment with a writing consultant at the Writing Center.
  • Know how to cite outside source material. Your professor may ask you to use a particular style to cite the material you have taken from library or Internet sources. Two common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).
  • Generally, a research essay must contain a thesis or research question that you explore in the text of your paper. Your job is to argue and "prove" the thesis. Your own analysis of the research question becomes an important part of this process.