Academic writing is a genre unto itself – just like cartoons are a subset of TV shows.

There are expectations, rules both spoken and unspoken.

The good news? Most of them are easy to learn and once you can put them into practice you will be well on your way to academic success (read: better grades!).

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ANALYZE Evidence to Support Your Thesis

Actionable tips and examples to help you move deeper into the evidence you’ve already got.

Analyzing Your Audience – the First Rule of Effective Writing

The first step to effective communication? Understanding your audience – including TEACHERS. Specific help for writing for the teacher audience.

Avoid ‘Just’ Opinions

While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, facts are independent of anyone’s beliefs, feelings, or perspectives. When writing persuasively, try to avoid opinion statements as these can weaken your argument, particularly when it comes to thesis statements. The...

Avoid a VAGUE Thesis

The more specific your writing, the more successful you will be at convincing others and communicating your ideas. Set yourself up for success in academic writing by crafting a specific thesis. Not a vague one. What is a vague thesis? Assume the general subject is...

Avoid Logical GOOFS (Logical Fallacies)

Fallacies are statements that sound logical but, if you stop and think, really aren’t. Avoid in your own writing and critique in others’.

CLOSELY Read ‘The Text’ to Squeeze Out All Its Meaning

In any high school or college class where you’re reading texts and writing about them, your writing will be more effective if you know how to perform what teachers call a “close reading.” Similarly, if you’re writing a business report or proposal, you’ll be much more likely to reach your goals if the document reflects a close, careful reading of your primary sources.

Counterargument Through Validation (Rogerian Approach)

Dr. Carl Rogers believed that one of the keys to a productive argument involved validating the opposing point of view. If you’ve taken a persuasive writing class then you are probably familiar with the counterargument, but what many writers end up doing (as their...

Define the KEY WORDS that are Crucial to Your Argument

Selecting a few, specific key words then using them throughout your essay will help emphasize your thesis and create flow and continuity.

Design a Sentence That Includes a QUOTE

“Quoting others’ work is crucial to your success as a writer.
Students often have difficulty with this skill; growing proficient at quoting will mark you as a sophisticated writer. Not quoting, or quoting awkwardly, is like showing up to a formal wedding dressed in cut-off jeans. Similarly, filling a short paper with many, many quotes (particularly long quotes) will interrupt your reader’s concentration on your ideas.”

Elegantly Include QUOTATIONS In Your Writing

Including quotes in your writing is one of the leading indicators of an accomplished academic writer. There are rules, and they are easy to learn. Once you’ve got them down and you can sprinkle quotes throughout your writing to support your points you’ll be on your way to creating slam-dunk arguments with the ability to persuade any audience.

Establish Your CREDIBLITY

Any writer needs to establish her credibility. Why read someone who you don’t believe or trust? Practice these skills to get it done quickly.

Examples of Persuasive and Argumentative Essays

There’s nothing like a model! Quick access to solid examples of persuasive essays.

Fallacy: Ad Hominem

It can be tempting, during an argument, to attack people who disagree with you, but people aren’t necessarily wrong simply because they have flaws. Name-calling and insults are not one of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals for a good reason and should be reserved for...

Fallacy: Cherry Picking Data

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." There are many potential pitfalls when working with data and statistics, but one common problem occurs when the data is not representative of the whole thing being examined and “cherry picking” is one...

Include COMPETING Evidence into Your Argument

“Many beginning writers, especially when trying to write argumentatively, will include only evidence that supports their thesis. This is a beginner’s mistake.
Any intelligent reader will think up competing (contradictory) evidence on their own. And even if they don’t, they will have to assume that if you ignore all opposing evidence you have either, a) not done a proper research job or are, b) willfully hiding unflattering facts.”

Intro to the Rogerian Argument

Tired of same-old organization for your academic argument? Or wish there was a less confrontational, winner-take-all approach? Try organizing for CONSENSUS with Rogerian Argument.

Learning Disabilities and Library Web Design: Challenges and Opportunities

  Universities today recognize the importance of responding to their students' many different learning styles and aptitudes. So they keep an eye out for research like the survey conducted at a highly competitive public university that  "found significant...

ORGANIZE Your Argument

Like pop songs or action movies, arguments have a pattern to them. Learn a pattern and use it to great effect!

PARAPHRASE Effectively – Avoid Just Copying

Paraphrasing is a skill that marks you as an accomplished academic writer – AND helps you avoid charges of plagiarism.

Q&A: Can a single example be used as both logos and ethos?

Great question: Can a single example be used as both logos and ethos? Can citing an authority provide both fact-based information while appealing to that person's credibility? We think YES - and doing so comes with a little extra benefit. Of course success depends on...

Silver Linings Playbook – Credit for the Original Author?

Silver Linings Playbook is a huge cultural event. Are your students fans? Do they know it is based on a novel by the same name? Activity Summary: Set up a discussion of attribution; should Bradley Cooper and David O. Russell give more credit to Matthew Quick, the...

Stay Focused on YOUR thesis

You need a great thesis but you also have to focus on it throughout your essay. Learn how!

Strategies for Arguing: Logos, Ethos and Pathos

“The Greek philosopher Aristotle identified three fundamental strategies for persuading an audience—English teachers may call these strategies “rhetorical appeals.” Everyone who reads or writes arguments should be able to recognize these:
Logos is the appeal to logic or reason.
Ethos is the appeal based on ethics, which establishes the credibility of the author.
Pathos is the appeal to the emotions of the audience.”

Strengthen Your Argument by Including a COUNTERargument

Including a counterargument is one of the single-most effective strategies for becoming an academic writer. Your writing will be more detailed, dig deeper, and engage more thoroughly with the material – all by attempting one extra paragraph that takes on the primary opposing argument.

SUMMARIZE Effectively – Don’t Just Parrot Another Author

Understanding when to accelerate and summarize vs. slow down and dig in is a key skill. Learn some basic moves to summarize well.

Tips for Organizing Your Ideas (Reverse Outlining)

Use this clever strategy to take a bunch of ideas and shape them into a coherent essay.

WIN From the Start: Write an EVOCATIVE Title

One of the fastest strategies to use as a writer? Use a clever title. Read through some examples and avoid calling your work “English Paper.”

Write a More ORIGINAL Thesis

One of the largest challenges to moving from middle-school and early high school writing to more advanced work is the challenge to write something original. This doesn’t mean you have to invent some whole new theory of life, the universe, and everything. Rather, it means you have to make your reader think.

Write a More SPECIFIC thesis

You will probably receive, or have received, the following feedback at some point: “Try to narrow your thesis.”
This may seem odd; a thesis isn’t something you can squeeze and shape. Can a thesis be ‘fat’?
The comment is an attempt to explain that you have bitten off more than you can chew.”