Despite all the guidelines students may receive before writing an assignment, it can be hard to process all that information in a timely manner. The instructions for one simple research paper or coursework may be comprised of:
- PowerPoint files of all materials of the term;
- a syllabus with all the topics;
- guidelines for formatting;
- a sample with the structure;
- a separate guide for referencing;
- your tutor’s notes;
- a link to the university website with examples;
- a document with all the rules of submission;
- a list of recommended literature, etc.
And the list goes on. The information from all the documents above may be compiled in a single one. However, it’s a big question what option is worse.
Anyway, the point is that there can be so many rules, examples, and instructions that you will be able to remember only about 25% of those. No wonder students turn to dissertation writing services to rewrite essay or get rid of so much stress. Experienced writers from such platforms have seen what most universities demand and know the priorities. So, it’s easier for them to craft a good Ph.D. paper.
Yet, if you decided to deal with your essay or paper yourself, you need to know the minimum requirements that are identical among almost all schools.
This point may sound pretty obvious at first. However, underneath, the question of plagiarism is not that straightforward and clear. Your work can be marked as plagiarized if:
- it has factual information you cannot know from your own experience, but the information is not cited;
- you rephrased one’s work so brilliantly that not a single plagiarism checker notices it (professors also read literature, and they read a lot; so, they might even recognize the specific work);
- the are random citations – you didn’t put the real citations from the very beginning and later added fake ones;
- you copied and pasted information from your previous assignments – it’s called self-plagiarism;
- you duplicated the written parts throughout the assignment to meet the word count (at least, it’s cheating).
As you can see, scanning your work using an online plagiarism checker won’t save you if you cheated in some way.
Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, sometimes, it’s required or allowed to use previous parts of your own assignments. You also may be lucky and not get caught, however, weigh the pros and cons: is it worth it?
Forget about contracted forms, slang, and sophisticated figures of speech in academic writing. Something like ‘It’s a marvelous experience for me’ is acceptable in a reflection part at most. First-person writing is also a very contradictory thing and usually appears in Reflection that is not even always a part of the assignment.
As the academic level grows, you’re going to get rid of any kind of metaphors or figures of speech at all (phrasal verbs are not that welcomed, too). So, you’d better start refining your academic word choice as early as possible. Unless your teacher or professor asks you to be emotional, air your honest opinion about a book, or feel free to choose the genre of writing, stick to classics.
Use neutral words. They will help you formulate objective arguments. Remember that students are always expected to provide some analysis on the topic. No one will perceive it seriously if the ideas are written in an informal or childish style.
Just make sure you expand your active vocabulary beforehand. Your writing shouldn’t be bland as well. Learn different sentence structures and practice using them. Check whether the range of verbs goes beyond ‘do’, ‘have’, and ‘make’, but also look up the context other verbs are used in. Awkward synonyms are sometimes worse than redundancy.
At first, these restrictions may seem too harsh, but you get used to them. Reading academic articles and double-checking words in a dictionary will pay off in the end as well.
One more tip: do not rely purely on online proofreading and editing tools, leave alone thesaurus. The latter can let you down from the very first attempt to find a good synonym. Machines are not that smart yet to make all the hard work for you.
So, if you feel like your active vocabulary lacks diversity, take courses, talk to native speakers, or set a goal of learning at least 5 words per day.
Referencing and Format Matter
Whether you like it or not, it is true. Some professors just won’t accept your work until you put those commas before the last surname in each APA reference. Law schools and universities almost always demand OSCOLA referencing and allow no exceptions.
One can draft a whole manuscript in an e-mail or a comments field telling you how important it is to put the page number in each footnote, not the page range. In the worst-case scenario, each of your reference entries with a missing comma, incorrectly formatted number of the journal issue, or another mistake will be commented on separately.
You might ask yourself now ‘what comma?’, ‘what can be wrong about a number of a journal issue?’. From your professor’s point of view – everything. It’s not as critical as the missing page number you took the cited information from. However, later, you may deeply regret you didn’t format your citations and references. So, just do it before the final submission.
In the end, excellent formatting and referencing can earn you several more points, hence a higher grade of your final work. They won’t save a poorly written assignment but can have your back in case of some minor issues with content.
The list of universal academic writing rules is not that short. However, these three basic principles may help you a lot if you stick to them when completing your written tasks. And, by the way, every assignment should have a conclusion (and introduction, of course). As you can see, even this article is not an exception.