Too many of my college teachers complain that their students aren’t good writers. As a result, this guide to writing an academic paper is geared toward college students, though some of the tips can be applied to any type of writing. Steven Horwitz, an economics professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, is the author of the article. Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective and Monetary Evolution, Free Banking, and Economic Order are two of his books.
Steven Horwitz wrote this.
Because writing papers in college (and the kind of writing you’ll do for the rest of your life) is different from what you were asked to do in high school, I’ve written nearly 4,000 words on how to improve your papers. My goal in producing this book is to assist you in developing your writing skills and your ability to clearly communicate your ideas. Rather than giving you a laundry list of guidelines, the goal is to teach you what you need to know in order to develop and present your ideas in a way that is both credible and persuasive.
Interactive Topic Papers and Research Pages
There are two types of non-fiction class papers: research papers and topic-based papers. When writing a research paper, you’re required to choose a topic and do your own research to gather relevant data and sources (typically at a library or online). Subject papers often require you to draw on the readings and discussions of the course to come up with a topic or topics for your paper, and then utilize just those resources (and not additional ones) to do the research and writing for your paper. Almost everything you’ll find in this manual may be used on both types of sheets without any modification.
If you are going to write any form of paper at all, you must use the course readings. In and out of the classroom, these readings are available to aid your comprehension of the content. We wouldn’t have given them to you if we didn’t think you’d utilize them. Both types of papers are required to see how successfully you can apply what you’ve learnt in class. In order to do so, you must apply the concepts and readings from it.Once you’ve finished writing your paper, go back and double-check that all of your course texts are properly mentioned and referenced. If not, there’s a strong possibility that what you’ve done has little bearing on this course. Don’t forget to mention your course readings correctly, too.
Statements of Purpose
Regardless of whether or not you plan to conduct any outside research, you must have a thesis statement in your article. A thesis statement is necessary after you have a notion of what you want to say and a general understanding of what others have stated. Your paper’s key point will be stated in your thesis statement. In a class paper, the goal is to convince the reader that you have something worthwhile to contribute. Debateable, specific, and succinct are all characteristics of a strong thesis. The following is a bad thesis statement:
* The Soviet Union’s history is both fascinating and difficult.
If you’re looking for anything that’s not intriguing and sophisticated, I defy you to find one. This theory, despite its conciseness and specificity, is not particularly contested.
* The Soviet Union’s history reveals many of the issues that would arise from centralized economic planning and bureaucratic society.
Although this claim is disputed, the specifics are clear and the argument is manageable in length. It presents only one side of an issue that may or may not be debatable. Someone may argue that the Soviet Union’s history demonstrates the difficulties of political tyranny, but does not tell us anything about the Soviet economy. Your supporting arguments should be based on what you’ve learned in class and in the readings, as well as any other readings you may have done. Formal papers are an opportunity to demonstrate that you have learnt enough to analyze new phenomena (be they ecological, social, literary, or artistic) in the context of a course. You must persuade the “reader,” not the lecturer, in your paper. The audience isn’t me when I read your article; I’m the one who decides whether or not your arguments will persuade someone else. Make your concerns about “someone else” rather than convincing me.
Also, don’t forget to start with your thesis statement. You don’t have to reveal your opinion until the end of the piece. Throughout the paper, you should be doing this. Course papers are a way for students to express their thoughts and opinions to their professors. In the rest of the paper, your thesis serves as a framework for your argument. Put it out there from the start, and don’t waver.
Think of yourself as a prosecutor attempting to convict a prisoner and the professor as the judge, not the jury, while defending a thesis. In other words, you should think of your sources as proof. This is a reversible process. You can reference or quote sources that support your point to bolster your case, like eyewitnesses to a crime. Contradictory sources are necessary because you must provide evidence to support your belief that the opposing viewpoints are erroneous or inadequate. This means you’d have to attempt to disprove or explain away a claim that the USSR was a failure in economic planning if you came across one. For an alibi to be admissible in court, you must prove that the defendant is lying or that the alibi is ineffective. Consider what other authors have to say and illustrate how it doesn’t undermine your point, even if they disagree.
Conclusions and Introduction
The purpose of an introduction is to make a good impression. They provide you with the opportunity to introduce your point of view to the reader and the other way around. Aside from that, they also attempt to persuade the reader to care about what you’re saying. Writing an enticing opening to pique the interest of the reader is an important part of crafting an effective thesis statement. Keep your reader from being thrown right into the heart of a heated debate. Begin by introducing a topic that is engaging and general enough to pique the attention of your audience, and then apply that basic notion to the subject at hand. It’s important to make an introduction that’s both broad and specific at the same time. A poor way to start a statement is:
He was a major figure in the history of philosophy.
“Karl Marx” may be replaced with an infinite number of other names and still make sense. When preparing an introduction, it is important to be detailed about your topic, such as:
Capitalism, according to Karl Marx, is the root cause of all forms of exploitation.
Do you see how this gets to the heart of the matter? Further discussion of exploitation’s characteristics, the way he defines capitalism, and his reasoning for believing capitalism leads to exploitation may be included at this point.
In the same way, conclusions are just an opportunity for you to make your final decision. Instead of concluding with
The ideas of Karl Marx, a well-known and influential thinker, are intriguing and contentious.
It doesn’t say anything, just like the terrible intro. Here’s a better way to start your final paragraph:
For the following reasons, Karl Marx’s criticism of capitalism’s exploitation of workers is ultimately erroneous:
and then give a comprehensive overview of what you’ve said. Would prosecution counsel end their closing argument with “In conclusion, the defendant accomplished some good and some terrible things, and I really can’t say much else about her”?Not at all. Finally, let your reader know what conclusions you’ve reached with your research. Tell her why what you’ve just stated is important to her. Give her a takeaway from the narrative.
Academic Honesty and Citation
Everyone’s favorite topic of conversation. Citation is based on the basic principle that you must give credit where credit is due when you use other people’s ideas. In writing, you have the freedom to express yourself as you see fit while also being able to draw inspiration from those who have come before you. As a result of such rights, you have a responsibility to both notify the reader of whose ideas you own and to provide credit to others when you utilize their work. This is how you demonstrate to people that you have done your homework and that you recognize the value of citing your sources while crafting your own arguments.
You should utilize in-text citations with a bibliography at the conclusion, i.e., a form of the APA style, in order to follow my recommendation. For instance,
*Marx’s concept of alienation has been linked to the idea of commodity production by certain critics (Roberts and Stephenson 1973, p. 35).
End of words, open parenthesis, no space between open parenthesis and the authors’ names. Close parenthesis, period.
Citations should include the author’s last name, the text’s publication date, and the text’s page number (s). Only when quoting an entire book or article may you provide the exact page number where a particular topic is covered. The fact that you’ve read the content in question reveals both your reader and yourself (in this case, myself). If a concept or idea is found across the whole text, there is no need to include a page number. There should be no precise quotations or close paraphrases of individual pages.
Any time you directly quote an author without changing a word in the original text, you must cite the source with an in-text reference that includes the page number. If you utilize statistics from a source, you must cite that source in your writing. These are the unalterable laws of the game. You are guilty of plagiarism if you breach these rules. Student handbooks cover academic honesty, and you are expected to know about it. Academic dishonesty is a major offense to me. You can’t deceive me with cut-and-paste jobs because I will identify the source material and start the academic dishonesty procedure as soon as I detect and then find stuff you have copied and pasted from the Web.
An in-text reference is required for this quote.
“Such knowledge is disseminated among market players,” says Lavoie (1985, p. 6).
A quote should always be introduced rather than tacked on at the end of a paragraph with just the citation to indicate its presence. Because of this, you should never put two quotations side-by-side without any intervening content.
In order to reference this quotation, you would also need to paraphrase it.
Human knowledge, according to Lavoie (1985, p. 6), spreads across the marketplace.
An appropriate citation for any of the preceding statements would be: Again, you have the freedom to cite any sources you choose, but you must also disclose to the reader where and how you got your information in order to protect their interests. A citation serves this purpose. “Some individuals observed the accused conduct the crime,” a lawyer would say. What if you could find out who they were and what they saw? In-text citations are like calling witnesses when you use ideas, information, or data. You must do this in order to prove your point. It’s also true if you try to apply the concepts more broadly:
Capitalism may be seen as a way of overcoming the reality that human knowledge is scattered throughout the marketplace (Lavoie 1985, p. 6).
It is likewise unacceptable to omit the citation of that particular statement. Identifying a “perspective” and implying it is not your original concept is the explanation. As a result, you’ll need to say where the information originated from. There is no need to mention your sources every time you return to the core concept, but you must do so the first time.
Knowing when to cite is a learned talent, just like any other. Citing a verbatim quotation, a paraphrase, or statistics, for example, is an unbreakable rule. For anything else, use your own discretion. Citing too much rather than not enough is usually a better option. To continue the metaphor, you should cite any facts or arguments that are based on the work of others. A smart prosecutor would inform the jury that “witness so-and-so saw the defendant do it” while crafting her case, since your sources are like witnesses. The opposite side’s witnesses must also be cross-examined!
In the field of biography (list of works cited),
It’s essential to provide a bibliography at the conclusion of your work that covers all of the sources you mentioned throughout the text. References that aren’t in your bibliography should be avoided, as should references that aren’t in your bibliography. Some people claim that when reading a book, they come up with ideas that they don’t immediately implement. That’s a waste of time. If you used it as a source of inspiration, you should cite it.It doesn’t belong in the bibliography if you didn’t learn anything from it. Please use the standard APA citation format if you are familiar with it. Make use of any reference books you received in FYP or FYS. Examples of acceptable bibliographic style include the following:
Don Lavoie’s What’s Left of National Economic Planning, published by Ballinger in 1985.
Peter Murrell is the subject of this article. History of Political Economy 15, Spring, pp. 120–135. Did the Theory of Market Socialism Answer Ludwig von Mises’s Challenge?
An article from a curated collection:
Understanding and Social Inquiry by Fred Dallmyr and Thomas McCarthy, eds., University of Notre Dame Press, 1977: Notre Dame Press; 1971: The Model of the Text: Considered to be a Text
Details aren’t important to me, as long as you provide all of the necessary information. You should, however, be careful when citing pieces in edited volumes. The book’s editors (i.e., the people whose names appear on the cover) aren’t always the same people who wrote the pieces that make up the book. For the most part, the editors have just one or two at most. You must include the author(s)’ names for each article.Make sure you know which article or chapter belongs to which author. In addition, the book title should be italicized and the article or chapter title should be enclosed in quotation marks (choose one and stay with it). See the curriculum for further examples of bibliography formatting, as well as the related readings. All of that data is readily available to you.
Before relying solely on the Internet, conduct your research. Become well-versed in scholarly publications as well as popular works available in print. Discover the ins and outs of EconLit as well as other scholarly and popular indexes. Afterwards, and only afterwards, it’s recommended that you do your search on Google. Why? The Internet’s greatest strength and worst drawback is that it is mostly uncontrolled. Even if scholarly information may be found via Google, a considerably higher percentage of what you discover is self-published and consequently less reputable, making net sources, on average, much less reliable than printed ones. Reading a lot of printed information and getting a feel of what types of arguments are regarded as acceptable is the best way to tell if a source on the Internet is credible. The Internet is a certain way to find a slew of unreliable resources. A useful internet source, however, should be referenced in the same manner as any other source. The page or document in question must have a title and an author. You can then enter the whole URL and either a date mentioned on the website, or the date that you viewed the information, if it is available.
The Steven Horwitz open letter to my left-wing friends can be found online at http://myslu.stlawu.edu/shorwitz/open letter.htm on October 8, 2008.
When it comes to using sources, the most difficult component isn’t finding them or mastering the mechanics of citation. How do you know which sources are credible? This is the most difficult element of the process. particularly on the Internet, but also with printed materials. Reading is the best approach to becoming an expert source judge. Works that are frequently cited by other researchers, for example, are likely to be valuable.You can only be sure of that, though, if you’ve read and researched quite a bit (including the sources’ reference lists) and participated in the ongoing discussion. And that necessitates setting aside the necessary time and effort.
Form and presentation
Nothing is more frustrating and demoralizing than a paper that appears to have been shoddy. To think otherwise is to be deceitful. Your message is sending the message that you don’t give a damn about what you’ve said to your reader (and to me). At the very least, make it appear as though you care about what you do by taking pleasure in your work. It’s an honor to be asked to share your thoughts on a topic by someone else. A paper with no page numbers or title indicates that you don’t take your ideas or yourself seriously. This is true regardless of whether you submit your article electronically or on paper.
Your papers, including early drafts, must adhere to the following guidelines: This includes any drafts you attach to emails or leave unfinished in angel drop boxes.It should appear just like a document you’d give in as a physical copy if I print that file out. In other words,
First, you need a separate title page that includes your name and the date, as well as a legitimate title for the assignment.
Second, the text is double spaced (not 2.5).
Margin sizes should range from 3 mm to 1.25 mm (no more).
Quotes longer than three lines should be indented one-half inch from the left margin and single-spaced.
Automatic page numbering is another useful feature. In Word, figure out how to accomplish it.
An annotated bibliography that begins with a fresh page
Utilize a 12-point font like Times New Roman or Garamond, and do not use Word 2007 or 2010’s templates for composing papers. A white page with black writing is all that is needed.
If you’re using a hard copy, make sure all of your pages are stapled or clipped together.
No more than a handful of handwritten alterations, if any at all.
10. The pages should be free of any blemishes or creases.
Here are a few further thoughts. To begin with, think of a catchy title that relates to the content of your paper. As an Albanian economic history, “Albania” is not a suitable title for a research paper. Try “Albania: An Example of Stalinism’s Failures.” instead. Unlike the first two, the final one makes a point. The title of your paper should not be a question; instead, it should sum up the key points of the work. Also, your title should not be a full phrase. The conclusion should be a succinct, concise summary of the research study in question.
Section titles can also be used to split up a lengthy article into manageable chunks. In the case of a paper on Albania, you might use a section title to highlight that the first half of it was devoted to socialist philosophy. Using a section heading to signal the beginning of a new segment, such as a history of Albania, and then a final one to signify the end is an option. This will assist you in keeping your structure organized and will make it easier for your reader to follow along with your writing.
Finally, provide a page number for each page of your document. Using this method, I may provide you with assistance or critique on individual web pages. The absence of page numbers is the bane of my existence. Inquire inside the realm of possibilities with my wife.
Give yourself adequate time to do the task thoroughly. It’s impossible to get a good grade if you start two days before the deadline. Taking your time is the most common source of shoddy work and poor analysis. Starting early enough allows for several drafts to be completed and thoroughly checked for mistakes in grammar and analytic content. Make sure you are brutally honest with yourself about your own work. What I do with my writing is write a rough draft and then go back over it several times. However, this takes time, so set aside the time necessary to do the task correctly. Just let me know ahead of time if you want me to read your early drafts or outlines, and I’ll be happy to oblige.
Remember the importance of good grammar, spelling, and language use. I’m confident that you all know exactly what you’re doing. You make mistakes because you’re in a hurry or don’t give a damn about the outcome. Using clumsy grammar and punctuation is a certain way to appear incompetent and uninterested in your thoughts. And why should I care if you don’t?
This guide’s goal isn’t to frighten the crap out of you; rather, it’s to provide you with useful information. It all comes down to a matter of pride. You should be proud of what you do, and you should be proud to share your ideas with others when they ask you for your opinions. If you’re proud of yourself and your work, you’ll put in the effort to craft sound arguments and correctly acknowledge your sources, and your writing will shine as a result.
Is writing good papers mysterious? No, it’s not The ability to develop and perfect this talent is something that anybody can achieve. It’s true that it requires effort, but what isn’t? Starting to be passionate about your work will make it easier to stay focused and less of a chore to complete your tasks. The rules will no longer be obstacles, but rather a vehicle for you to express yourself. When you were a kid, you were so proud of your first finger painting that you demanded that it be displayed on the fridge. It’s the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction you get from your work that should inspire you throughout your entire life, not just in college. The rest will take care of itself if you are passionate about what you do.