In the MALS student writer survey, I asked you to describe some of the biggest writing challenges that you face. Here’s a sample of some of the most popular answers to that question. Do any of these sound familiar?
a) Time management and procrastination: a lack of time to draft and to revise
b) Difficulty with developing a research question and a thesis / developing an appropriate scope
c) Confidence: finding an academic voice, and joining the ongoing scholarly conversation about a topic
d) Organization of the paper
e) A lack of clarity about a professor’s expectations
In this section of the guidebook, we’re going to examine some common genres of academic writing across the disciplines. We’ll think about those genres as a way to help you establish and maintain a more effective workflow so that you’re addressing some of the challenges that you mentioned in the survey.
This section will include information on:
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- Reflection papers
- Annotated bibliographies
- Research proposals
- Drafting (including resources on research(able) questions, thesis statements, source integration, and revision strategies)
- Forming and managing writing groups
I’ve also included some sample papers written by students both inside and outside of the the MALS program, as well as annotated undergraduate and graduate research papers from across the disciplines. And some sample work schedules.
While it sounds like more work to build in writing “deliverables” to accompany all of that reading that you’re doing, if you can establish a realistic, independent work schedule, you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed when the seminar paper is due. Giving yourself smaller, more achievable benchmarks to meet over the course of the semester instead of one giant benchmark to meet in the last three weeks of class can also help you to develop much better research questions.
Are there resources I missed? Is there a common genre that we should explore together that you don’t see listed here? Let me know in the comments.