7 December 2012
Ah, paper season. University papers mind you, quite a different beast from the papers you may be seeing in secondary school. For here in university, the things that count are your sources and your research. In High School you were able to skate by much of the time with merely a cursory Google search on a general research topic. As long as the paper showed some attempt at citing some sort of research, it was passed along.
No longer, in University, wherever you are, there is simply no alternative but to spend that hour in the library, trudging through collecting books. The hauls of books that you will need can range from anything from 2-10. Of course it’s your responsibility to find a way to carry all that. And that’s before the actual question of reading through those books for pertinent information. Here’s a hint, your obviously not going to read through the entirety of 10 scholarly texts the week before your paper is due. The key is finding information that is pertinent to your topic. Those are research skills. They’re very valuable by the way, especially when you’re someday in the office and told to trudge through dozens of reports and relay the information back in a concise form. Trust me, I’ve done it.
And then comes the actual drafting of the paper itself. No more random, meandering, endless, aimless rants jotted down or typed up the night before. With these papers, you need to actually know what you want to do with your essay, what you want to say, and plan out the points you are going to make to drive home your main point, whatever that may be. And it then comes down to you to try and make those points in a coherent way, such that another person is able to understand what you are saying and perhaps, perhaps, be persuaded or at the very least left with a decent impression.
The trick of academic writing can have a sharp learning curve, but by the time you’ve mastered it you’ll be able to churn out high-quality papers like nobody’s business. Initially it may well prove time-consuming, but as with most skills, each time you do it, it will take less time to produce better quality papers. And that’s the point. Practice writing papers should ultimately make it easier for you to write papers, so that when you are on the job one day, you don’t struggle to write out something coherent. It instead will come quickly and easily to you. And that skill is what will make you stand out.