Academic Writing Skills
The Eberly tutors have identified these
sites as ones that are personally useful to them. In the annotation that follows
each site, a tutor explains that benefits of the site. While the Eberly tutors
hope you find these sites useful, we encourage you to come and visit us for a
face-to-face session in the Writing Center.
to Your Audience (Colorado State University)
So there's a difference
between scribbling a note to your boyfriend and writing a capstone thesis for a
professor. Why isn't the difference in audience as clear-cut when you're
writing a lab report or a literary analysis? This website discusses the three
types of audience, how to determine whom you are writing for, and what
professors are looking for in your paper. Never be told you are using the wrong
language again! C.H.
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
In every piece of writing, no matter the
subject, there is always an audience involved. It is important to identify this
group before beginning the writing process because they guide all aspects of a
paper. Word choice, tone, structure, and other features change depending on who
is reading a work! This resource will help with identifying an audience and
tailoring language to a specific readership. J.D.
Close Reading (Carson-Newman
Don't you wish you had a time machine? That way, you could just
ask Robert Frost what on Earth he meant when he wrote "Stopping by Woods on a
Snowy Evening." Unfortunately, it looks like you'll have to rely on your own
close reading to write that paper. This article, written by a lit professor, has
tons of tips to help you get started and know what to look for when you read
poems and other things. G.M.
Reading Literature (University of Texas)
Do you find yourself far from
knowing where to start when it comes to close reading? The University of Texas
is here to help by outlining the main points of how to closely read a piece of
literature while also asking leading questions to incite thought in the writer.
This site is sure to inspire anyone who needs a kick start to close reading a
Reading of Primary Sources (Brown University)
For all of the history
students out there, primary source documents are a major part of your academic
experience. Here you'll find a short, concise step-by-step article detailing the
methodology that History majors at Brown University use when close reading
primary source documents. If you're ever worried that you aren't getting the
most out of your primary source readings, take a "closer" look at this article.
Reading of a Text (Pennsylvania State University)
"Treat the passage as
if it were complete in itself," advises this website. Indeed, this link really
is complete in and of itself. It offers a guide to the different elements of a
text to look at when doing a close reading; the questions you can ask when
examining each element; and tips on constructing a thesis. J.K.
Analyze a Text (The University of Texas at El Paso)
One of the most
common assignments given by professors across the country is reading outside of
class, and with these assignments comes the expectation that students will be
prepared to discuss the readings in class. But what if the reading you're
assigned doesn't make any sense? Without a clear strategy, readings can quickly
become too complex or confusing to pinpoint the main idea. This site offers
specific questions that students can refer to in order to discover the meaning
of a text. C.B.
to do a Close Reading (Harvard College)
Close reading refers to the
careful, in-depth examination of a text, an indispensable part of the writing
process. Close reading is the process by which you analyze, make connections,
and reflect - a process which helps you gain insight and inspiration to write a
paper. This article breaks down the seemingly daunting task into several doable
procedures, using vivid example to illustrate how to annotate the text, look for
patterns and connections, and ask probing questions, all of which could help you
render the close reading process highly productive. X.Z.
to ask while reading literature (Hamilton College)
Being an active
reader is a crucial component of the writing process. Thinking about a text as
you read it will not only demystify the early stages of developing an argument
for a paper but make that author's argument more interesting and compelling (and
also save you the trouble of flipping back to the first chapter to discern
details you may have missed the first time). This handout provides questions to
ask yourself as you read a text and prepare to write about it, as well as
general tips to help you get the most out of a close reading. L.H.
Writing in the Disciplines
In Biology (University of Richmond)
Biology reports require a certain
format that can be difficult to follow. This site offers a convenient template
for a general lab report and annotates the different components. There are
concrete examples for each section and easy guides to the development of tables
and figures. M.N.
for History Majors (Boston University)
Historians have a unique
approach to writing. This link provides notes on using and citing secondary and
primary sources, style, plagiarism, as well as the writing process for
History Papers (Dartmouth University)
This handout distinguishes
between "facts" and "evidence" as it explains how you can interpret historical
facts in order to create stronger history papers. It also distinguishes between
the important concepts of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources and provides
tips for writing with each of these source types. Finally, you can find
strategies for both the pre-writing and writing processes, as well as links to
other resources for help with developing theses or paper structure. L.H.
the Philosophy Paper (Dartmouth College Writing Program)
Need the right
format for your deep thoughts? Philosophy papers are very different from
anything you've ever written before. "Writing the Philosophy Paper" will teach
you to come up with flawless conclusions with logical premises, to keep your
tone charitable, and to organize your argument fluff-free! Socrates would be so
Papers (Dartmouth College)
Do not assume that writing a sociology paper
simply involves applying the rules you learned in English or psychology class
about writing papers; they require a different type of survey of information and
analysis. Read through this guide before buckling down with your sociology
paper, whether you are writing about a social issue or simply surveying a body
of data. This site covers the conventions applied to different types of
sociology paper. J.K.
Papers in Different Disciplines (Hamilton College)
Is this your first
time writing an essay in a new academic area? Take a glance at this article,
which features general suggestions and guidelines for writing formal papers
about philosophy, poetry, and the sciences. The sections describe the basic goal
of each kind of paper and discuss how to go about writing an effective paper in
the respective fields. For additional help, the article concludes with a list of
links to other guides. E.B
Annotated Bibliographies and Footnotes
Bibliographies (Purdue University)
Sometimes creating a "works cited"
page is not an adequate way to represent your sources. If this is your first
assignment that needs to include an annotated bibliography (or if you just need
a refresher), then this article will be of great use to you. After describing
annotated bibliography and what it should include, the article offers some
thoughts on why annotated bibliographies are utilized. Finally, this page
concludes with some tips and general guidelines for proper formatting. E.B
Plagiarism - (MIT)
Citation, citation, citation. Learning proper
citation techniques is critical to avoiding plagiarism. Review this site to
learn how to properly quote, paraphrase, and summarize while avoiding
unintentional plagiarism. E.S.
Plagiarism (Purdue University)
What makes an undergrad sweat even more
than procrastination is the constant threat of plagiarism. Want to avoid the
worst-nightmare scenario of ending up defending yourself in front of academic
conduct board? Check out this site to learn to identify plagiarism, to avoid it,
and to practice your amazing plagiarism-avoiding skills. C.H.
Plagiarism (University of Wisconsin)
What exactly is plagiarism? Some
people can plagiarize and not even realize it. Check out this site to learn
exactly what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. J.W.
(University of Sydney)
Footnotes are much more than a way to cite a source
or to fill up a page for those who have found them helpful in this sense.
Rather, they can be used to make important references or provide information
that would otherwise interrupt the flow of the writing. This source contains a
basic guide to using footnotes in college essay writing. F.A.
Resumes and Personal Statements
Without a cover letter, your resume would be
much less appealing to potential employers! This site is full of how-tos for
cover letters, including the purpose and contents of a cover letter and its
proper format. After checking out this quick and helpful guide, you can even see
a few of their examples (which are written out in-full and include examples for
both hard-copy and e-mailed cover letters.) E.B
the Personal Statement (Purdue University)
Want to make your personal
statement stand out among the sea of grad school applications? Get inspired!
This site has tons of generative questions to help you unblock your writer's
block. It also includes some useful do's and don'ts that will help you avoid
common mistakes and set yourself apart from the crowd. M.K.N.
Thesis/Hypothesis and Organization
a Central Claim (Duke University)
If your essays seem unconvincing or
insubstantial, it might not be due to poor writing. The strength of your thesis
has influences the quality of the paper. Here are some qualities of a convincing
thesis with some tips on how to write one. B.Z.
a Thesis (Harvard College)
This article discusses the process of
constructing a working thesis, from analyzing primary sources to creating
complication and tension in a thesis. In addition, the author also makes a full
list of what to do (e.g. to anticipate a counter-argument) and what to prevent
(e.g. not to make the thesis a question) with detailed examples. X.Z.
Thesis Statement (Indiana University - Bloomington)
Ahhh the thesis . .
. a central aspect of any good essay, and yet it is arguably one of the most
difficult things to come up with for even the best writers. If you're having a
hard time revising your thesis as you write or even formulating a thesis in the
first place, here's a great resource just for you. There is advice on how to
come up with your thesis if the topic is or, god-forbid, isn't assigned.
of an Hypothesis (Duke University)
I hypothesize that if Subject A
visits this site before her next lab assignment is due, her grade will grow
exponentially! This PDF will take you step-by-step through what to put into
your hypothesis, how to check that it makes sense, and how to test the validity
of someone else's. With lots of questions to ask yourself on the way, this page
will give you an airtight hypothesis that will help you become the next Darwin!
Evidence (Indiana University)
Would you be convinced by an unsupported
argument? Yeah, well, neither would your professor.
In essay writing,
evidence is based on facts about which you have formed an opinion. Indiana
University's writing services center provides a useful guide to effectively
incorporating evidence by use of quotations and also notes three different ways
to do citations. F.A.
Thesis Statement (Dartmouth College)
The thesis sentence is the most
basic building block of a paper. As basic as the concept is, it is essential to
the paper, as it guides the whole paper and explains its purpose. The Dartmouth
Writing Center explains the importance of the thesis sentence in the argument of
a paper and how to construct a successful one. C.C.
Statements (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Are you struggling to
figure out what a thesis statement should be or how to write one? To prevent the
thesis statement from becoming your enemy, you should take a glance at this
article, which breaks down the construction of a thesis statement into several
mini guides (from "how to develop a thesis statement" all the way to "the final
product.") No matter where you are in your thesis-writing process, this series
of guides should be really helpful. E.B
for Writing Your Thesis Statement - (Purdue University)
A well-written thesis statement often leads to a well-written paper. Whether
you are beginning an analytical, expository, or argumentative paper, a concise
and specific thesis statement is a vital start. Want to develop your thesis
statement? Not sure where to start? This site will provide helpful tips and
Transitions and Paragraphs
and Transitions (University of Texas at Austin)
Writing can be
frustrating when one has great ideas and content but no way to connect them. The
solutions to this problem are transitions. They can be words or linking phrases
that serve to enhance the flow of a paper. A step-by-step guide is provided on
this webpage for taking a draft and reworking it in stages: sections, then
paragraphs, and finally sentences. J.D.
Paragraphs (Purdue University)
Paragraphs are much more than a mere
string of sentences. In fact, organized paragraphs are essential to
communicating your fantastic ideas to the reader. This site explains the
structure of a coherent paragraph and provides advice on everything from topic
sentences to concluding observations. M.K.N.
A paper with no transitions is like a broken-down car. You work
really hard, but in the end, it's incredibly hard to get from one place to the
next. Transitions help good ideas makes sense. This link gives you the basics
about transition usage, as well as a list to help you get started. G.M.
of North Carolina)
Sometimes it is a challenge to get from one thought to
the next. Sometimes our paragraphs just seem out of place. Sometime we just need
something to hold our words together. Transitions are the solutions to all of
our problems. Well, maybe not all of our problems, but certainly the ones I just
named. This site provides explanations for proper transition use as well as tips
to recognize when you need to improve your transitions and how. J.W.