Write demand planning, research and great care. Check out our tips so your results are flawless.
Do you need to produce an academic paper? So get ready, because you are about to go through an experience that will enrich your college journey.
Academic works are fundamental to develop a critical analysis of the knowledge produced in a given theme. The ways to develop a work are varied: presenting, demonstrating, diffusing, recovering and even contesting a perception. This requires a lot of research and care of who produces them, as well as motivating originality, innovation and, above all, learning.
Whether as an evaluative method of a subject, as a requirement for completion of your college or post-graduate course, you have to work hard to deliver complete material with good textual and visual flawless content; after all, this production will take its name.
If you still do not know where to start, follow our guide with 11 golden rules so that you deliver a perfect material at the end of your search.
Establish a plan and familiarize yourself with key academic standards
- Plan your work
Planning your work involves four steps:
- Preparation on the theme;
- Preparation of the work plan;
- Organization of material.
- The preparation on the subject is like a recognition of territory. You need to conduct research on works and theses produced in your area and check the relevance of what you intend to produce. Relevance will depend on the type of academic work you are producing and your goals.
It is at this stage that you will define your search method. There are two main types of methodology – qualitative and quantitative – that fall into several subcategories: they can be academic, empirical, exploratory, experimental, laboratory, theoretical and field research. The application of each one depends on its subject, its area of study and the methodology accepted by its teaching institution.
Already the elaboration of its work plan corresponds to the delimitation of its focus and its objectives in the subject.
To improve your productivity, it is worthwhile to set a timetable for all steps and to include deadlines. Be flexible with your planning, but do not let go of having a north when it comes to producing the content.
It is also necessary to conduct a thorough investigation. Irrespective of whether it is a bibliographical, experimental or case study, the idea is the same: analyze the topic intensively and interpret the information obtained.
Finally, let’s talk about the organization: the less liberal part of its planning, but also the more “automatic”. As you will have specific norms for the structure of your work and the order of disposition of the elements (pre-textual, textual and post-textual), you will only need to respect them. So the result will be naturally well-structured.
By the way, check out the next golden rule to learn all about technical standards and prepare your work according to the preferences of your educational institution.
- Follow the technical standards and check the requirements of your educational institution
Ah, the dreaded formatting rules! They are responsible for taking the sleep of many students who need to do academic work.
But calm down, because it is for your good. Formatting standards are very important for standardizing scientific productions. In addition, the existence of defined structures and formatting will save you the time you need to spend thinking about the order of the elements, the choice and size of the font, how to quote and other features of your work.
The most commonly used formatting standards in Brazil are ABNT (Brazilian Association of Technical Norms) and APA (American Psychological Association), but it may be that your institution adopts other standards or rules of its own. Therefore, you need to check this information in advance.
Starting to produce the work following the formatting rules is better than having to redo everything at the end. So it is worth investing some time researching and analyzing the standards you will need to follow.
After checking the formatting rules, you’ll still have to go through a little bit of “paperwork” before writing down everything you’ve learned.
This is because your educational institution may set some preferences and specific requirements to approve your production. For example, ABNT standards allow for footnote or author-date citations, and the institution may only accept one of the two systems.
These preferences and requirements should be included in the normative documentation of your institution’s academic work. When in doubt, it’s worth talking to your teacher-counselor.
- Use fonts compatible with long texts and maintain a textual balance
Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri … how to choose the ideal font for your work?
Well, if you need to follow ABNT standards, your two options are Arial or Times New Roman. Already if you will follow the APA standards, your only option is the Times New Roman font.
If your institution’s formatting standards are more liberal, you may want to try other sources. The most suitable options for long texts are the serif fonts. Serif fonts are those with small strokes at the end of each letter’s stem. This feature optimizes the reading speed and makes it more enjoyable.
Also, establish a hierarchy for textual information. The hierarchy is the degree of importance and prominence that you give to the different parts that make up your text: title, subtitle and body text.
When checking the technical standards adopted by your educational institution, you have probably seen that you will have to follow rules specific to the source, including size and density (normal or bold). This is great, since this way you will not need to establish the hierarchy on your own. However, if this choice is free, establish a logic that drives the reader’s eye and highlights the most important parts of his work.
If you want to get the maximum grade in your work, you will have to pay attention to the smallest details.
One is balancing the paragraphs in your text. To make the reading more enjoyable, it is interesting that you write paragraphs of similar sizes.
Calm down, you do not have to despair and count every line of your text. When you talk about a central idea in each paragraph, you will realize that your text will gain a natural uniformity.
In addition to favoring reading, a balanced text gives an elegant look to the look of written work.
- Simplify information with tables, tables and figures
If your topic involves complex concepts, especially those that rely on descriptive and numerical materials, you can – and in some cases, should – use tables, pictures, and pictures to make it easier for the reader to understand.
But be careful: the choice between the three elements should be based on the information you need to convey.
Tables are the numerical information presentations in a logical and organized way. They make it much easier to view statistical data. They are most indicated in cases where it is necessary to present specific values and concepts.
Tables are word arrangements in rows and columns (with or without numeric data). The difference in comparison with the tables is, mainly, in the intention of schematizing the information, instead of presenting statistical concepts.
Already the concept of figure corresponds to a generalization for several visual elements (graphics, photographs, maps, drawings, illustrations, etc). In academic papers, it is common to use graphs to present information more dynamically in a table. The other elements are applied according to specific needs, and vary with the subject of work and the area of study.
Three things are essential when presenting tables, pictures and figures: the quality of the image; reliable information; the credits for the author.
The quality of the image is fundamental so that the reader can visualize the visual elements of the work and can extract the information with clarity. At this point, you need to establish a rule without exception: use only tables, tables and figures in high resolution.
Reliability of information is another very important aspect. You need to demonstrate and verify the veracity of the information you are presenting. Therefore, avoid presenting data without citing the authorship or using images without credible sources.
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- Name the works consulted and give credits to the authors
The citations are proof that you conducted serious research before writing about your topic. You need to cite the sources you consulted to do your work, whether directly or indirectly.
Direct quotes are those in which you use the author’s entire material (text, tables, pictures, or pictures). Indirect quotations are those in which you use your own words to explain the concept of a particular author. In both cases, you need to refer to the source.
To signal references, the two most common forms are the numerical system and the author-data system.
In the numerical system, you should make the reference through a note in the footer of the document, presenting the author, the work, the place of publication and the year of publication. References are ordered numerically and sequentially. This system is one of the options of the ABNT standards.
In the author-date system, this reference occurs more simply, with the presentation of the author’s surname and the year of publication in parentheses: (AUTHOR, 2018). The author-date system is also accepted by ABNT, and is mandatory for work based on the APA standards.
In both cases, you will need to make a link to all the citations in your text at the end of the paper. This section is called “bibliographic references”, and is a mandatory post-textual element.
Start the production of your work taking into account the specificities of each textual element
- Prepare an objective cover
The cover of your work is the first point of interaction with the reader. So she needs to make it clear what the research topic is. It also sets the tone of how you approach the subject studied. Therefore, take special time to prepare it.
Some information is indispensable in its cover: the name of the educational institution, its name, the title of the academic work, the city where the work will be presented and the year of delivery.
Avoid inserting colored drawings or other visual elements that are not compatible with the seriousness of an academic work. You can even insert the logo of your educational institution, but be careful about the size and quality of the figure. Any exaggeration in this part of the job can undermine your credibility.
Present the identification information and the theme of the work in a direct and objective way. The explanations are for the research development part.
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- Introduction: Start addressing the topic
After studying hard and devoting a good deal of time to formatting your work, it’s time to put your hand in the dough and produce your content. The beginning of everything is, of course, the introduction.
The introduction should be a direct presentation of your theme. Take care not to give too many explanations, since the ideal in this part is:
- Delimit the subject;
- To present the studied problem;
- Explain your goals;
- Indicate the applied methodology.
- To delimit the subject, you need to contextualize your reader about the situation of your research. For example, if you are going to address the influence of technology on human interactions, it is interesting to briefly explain how technology has gained space in societies, and how technological devices spread through homes and offices around the world.
Already the presentation of the problem is the approach of the reflexes and consequences of the context that you already presented. Following the example above, you can explain what has changed in human relations after the spread of technological devices and the consequences of this change.
Explanation of your goals should address your intentions for the outcome of your research. You need to identify the points you want to explore and clarify. In our example, you could explain that you want to analyze the changes in human interactions in order to find out what transformations occurred in the technological age.
Lastly, the applied methodology is the research system that you used to get to your results, which was defined in your work plan. In your introduction you need to describe it and inform about any specific features of your work.
- Development: present the results of your research
Celebrate, because now you are free to explore the content thoroughly, without needing to summarize your explanations. The goal of development is to provide a perfect understanding to the reader. In this part you should:
- Insert its theoretical basis;
- Present the information you have identified;
- Discuss your ideas.
Its theoretical foundation represents all the baggage of knowledge you have acquired after studying the subject in depth: articles, books, news, experiences and other materials. You need to organize this content into a flow that explains and answers the problem you are studying.
As you have seen, you can present the information in different ways; either using quotations from the authors studied or drawing tables, tables and figures. Your goal should be to clearly explain each point you have addressed. Just be careful not to leave repetitive content.
To fulfill the purpose of the work and to approach the problem successfully, you need to connect the sources with your own ideas. In the end, the process is a cycle: you’ll write about it, cite sources that justify your arguments, and then connect the new concept to your flow of ideas.
- Conclusion: Show everything you’ve learned
You do not have to feel nostalgia for hours studying and writing. You still have to go through a few points before finally being able to say that you have finished your work.
Conclusion, as well as introduction and development, is a key part of your text. It is in it that you will:
- Demonstrate your contribution to the academic milieu;
- Present the results of your research;
- Explain the importance of the resources you used to achieve the results;
- Show how you responded to the problem addressed;
- Present your own considerations after studying the topic.
The explanation for his contribution to the academic milieu is a brief account of what his work has provided for his target audience, be it lay people or researchers in the field.
The results of your research are the answers to the problem you set out to study. It is important to list them in a chronological order so that your reader can easily identify them.
If you have used specific resources to produce your work (such as laboratory equipment, electronic devices, questionnaires, etc.), you must relate them and explain the importance of each to the results you have obtained.
So you must respond in your own words to the problem of the subject you studied, and to show how (and if) the objectives were achieved.
Finally, you need to close the text by explaining your own considerations about the theme, problem, and results.
- Review your work
After you finish writing your work, two very important tasks are still missing to ensure your reader’s satisfaction: reviewing your work and printing on quality material. This demonstrates your whim with every detail, and gets you even closer to note 10.
The revision is a laborious process, where the framing of the text is conferred to the technical norms and the correct spelling. Because the approval requirements of an academic paper are often rigid, the review will ensure that your content is within all standards.
You may find it difficult to revise your own text, as it is more difficult to identify errors in something produced in your own way. It is a good idea to hire a specialized review service.
However, if for some reason you can not have the assistance of a professional, check out these tips from author Karina Kuschnir to do a good review of your work:
- Organize the review process in three phases: revision of bibliographic references, revision of the text, review of authorship, title and abstract.
- In the review of bibliographic references:
- Check the order of references (which may vary according to the technical standard adopted in your work, but usually must be in alphabetical order);
- Organize works by the same author in chronological order, by year of publication;
- Verify that the content of the references conforms to the formatting standard;
- Reduce the size of links with tools like Google Shortener;
- Observe if the content fits the correct alignment;
- Make sure that all the contents quoted in the text are in the list of bibliographic references, and vice versa.
- In the revision of the text
- Reduce excesses and eliminate colloquialisms, redundancies and clichés;
- Replace or delete repeated words in snippets of text;
- Avoid adjectives and adverbs;
- Remove the passive voice from the text;
- Improve accuracy in case of vague assertions and arguments;
- Synthesize the argument to avoid repeated ideas;
- Review the opening of the text.
In review of authorship, title and abstract.
Check the biographical data;
Review the summary of your work;
If you have not yet chosen the title, or if the choice is unsatisfactory, take the time to make it perfect.
- Ensure the quality of the printed version
Have you written and reviewed your work? Then came the time of printing.
You should start by choosing the paper you are going to print your production on. That’s right: paper quality greatly influences the reader’s experience. Do you know that nice feeling of buying a new book and being happy just to flip it through? This is what you should want your reader to feel. Therefore, the ideal is to print your work in A4, with a weight of 90g.
If you are hiring a print shop to do this, search for a vendor who specializes in printing academic papers. Because of the differentiated quality parameter and the number of standards for scientific productions, you need to ensure that the printer is accustomed to meeting a strict standard of print quality.
This also applies to the binding of your work. The spirals should favor the folio, making the reading and movement of the pages as natural as possible for anyone who is handling their work.
Of course this all depends on the budget you have available but you need to keep in mind that the physical characteristics of your work influence how your reader will interact with the content you have produced.
Now it’s up to you
Now you know the 11 golden rules to make your academic work a success. Study hard, search for different bibliographic sources, and especially get involved with your subject.