Shaped Writing Paper

See “Academic Argument: Evidence-based Defense of a Non-Obvious Position“)In the image below, I’ve flagged all the places where this author cited evidence.

What matters most is that every paragraph cites sources.

A week before your paper is due, visit the writing center, or make an appointment during your instructor’s office hours.

If your instructor offers you the chance to revise, take advantage of the opportunity to improve your work.

Don’t think of the introduction as where you introduce your reader to everything you’ve learned about the topic you chose to write about. Your job is to introduce your reader to your paper.

While you might use your introduction to introduce a complex concept your reader will need to be familiar with in order to understand your thesis, an introduction should not natter on about what “some people might say” and what “other people might say,” or confess your ignorance about your chosen topic (“I don’t understand why everybody on the planet doesn’t feel exactly the same way I feel about X”).

Your instructor may not circle all your spelling mistakes, or tell you what your thesis should be, or what arguments you should make.

But your instructor does want you to learn, and you will benefit from any feedback you get.

I feel much the same way when I read a student paper that begins by introducing the random points A, B, and C, then jumps to unrelated paragraphs on topic X, Y, and Z.

You can’t construct a college-level paper by daisy-chaining stand-alone paragraphs that deal with one source at a time, any more than you can score an epic movie with a series of unrelated tunes.


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