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Five Things to Pay Heed to When Writing An Academic Essay

When writing an academic essay in the age of the Internet, there are all kinds of things to be aware of today. Shortcuts are not the way to go anymore—you cannot get away with the same things you could get away with in the age of print essays – even in the age of the simple word processor—even in the days of early word processing and computers. Since copy scape, turn it in, and other types of plagiarism checkers have been invented, you cannot even reuse an essay that you wrote for another class years age—do you know why? The essay will show up as one hundred percent plagiarized—and it will take awhile after the teacher finds out you were one hundred percent plagiarized for the instructor to find out that you had only copied yourself—so for several hours to two days the teacher may think that you borrowed an assignment from another student or, even worse, have just cut and pasted an essay from some blog, newspaper article, journal or magazine article on the web, lazily.

If you Borrow, Acknowledge It

So, first, if you are going to borrow a paragraph, a quote, a paraphrase (someone else’s words that you put into your own words, acknowledge the originail source of the material you are using.

Know this—Acknowledging Sources is Not only the Legal thing To Do—It takes the Level of Your Paper Up in Terms of Grade Possibilities and Level of Writing Difficulty (in the eyes of your reader).

Students, nothing takes a paper up a notch even better than to look academic enough to know how to acknowledge how to use other source materials in your essay. See, the whole goal of academic writing is to showcase your KNPWLEDGE—and we GET KNOWLEDGE through reading, watching high quality television, movies, and documentaries, and even through having a conversation with a parent, friend, tutor, relative, or professor. And there are ways to quote all of these things that you can find out with a simple Google search.

If you are confused in any way about how to quote something—write it all down and ask your instructor.

Nothing pleases a teacher more than to see a student at least trying to do the right thing, and if you are having trouble understanding how to quote a source or refer to someone else in your essay, ask your instructor for help with this—as long as you approach them, they will be aware that you are struggling with documentation—what we call the whole APA, MLA, and citation process, and they will get you help.

Do not be afraid to draw research into your essays

Even if you are only writing a personal experience essay, do you know how much better it makes that essay look and sound if you begin that paper with an appropriate quote, or even an epigraph, which could capture the theme of your experience, life lesson, or point you are trying to make in reflecting upon this particular personal experience. If you do not know about epigraphs, which are quotes from other authors, famous quotes usually, which capture the theme of what you are discussing in your essay. These quotes are placed – in italics for effect, in between the title of your paper and where the paper officially begins – with your writing. They are also off set as well—get to know these on the web by Googling “using epigraphs in your essays for effect.

Do Not Be Afraid to Try Something New—tell a great story!

You want your essay to be interesting above all things.

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