What does it take to write a great paper? Does it seem like a daunting task? Whether you like writing or not, we´re here to give you some tips on how to write a thoughtful and successful paper.
There are different kinds of papers, such as research papers, short opinion papers, project reports, current events discussions, and so on. They all have a few things in common, though.
1) Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is the idea or topic you are going to discuss in your paper. For example, your professor could have assigned a project on the effects of human rights on international business. You might choose to talk about FoxConn and Apple. Your thesis statement could be something like, “Companies should strive to provide the best work environment possible, even if human rights standards are lower in the host country than the home country.” Your thesis statement should be clear and within the guidelines of the assignment.
Many people don´t use outlines when writing papers, but it can be a great way to organize, focus, and plan the length of your paper. When doing an outline, you´ll want to have two or three main points (depending on how long the paper is or how much you have to say about each point) and a few sub-points. Here is an example outline for an 8-page assignment:
Introduction (one or two paragraphs)
A. Globalization and human rights (one page)
B. Obligations of companies with foreign direct investment (two pages)
C. Reasons to exceed low-threshold human rights laws in some nations (two pages)
D. Example of failure -Apple and Foxconn- and implications (one page)
E. Recommendations for the future (one or two paragraphs)
Conclusion (one or two paragraphs)
3) Body of the Paper
One you have the outline and have completed your research, it´s time to get writing! Try to be as clear and precise as you can; present your arguments and reasoning simply yet showing that you know what you are talking about. Make sure that you are not just summarizing the information you´ve read elsewhere–a great paper includes analysis, synthesis of the ideas, and the addition of new thoughts.
Be sure to address other points of view if you´re writing about a controversial topic. For example, here you could talk about different cultural views about human rights, imposing one´s standards on others, expenses to companies, and other aspects.
Every part of the paper should be on-topic, so avoid tangents, rambling, or re-stating thoughts that were already expressed.
4) Introduction and Conclusion
We find it helpful sometimes to write the introduction and conclusion last. You could start with a rough introduction, basically stating your thesis. Then go back to it and add some more muscle. Your conclusion should pretty much be a summary of your thesis and perhaps one more piffy thought.
Be sure to follow the suggested format. This can include font style or size, margins, spacing, page numbers, and other items. Many professors appreciate a title page and index if necessary. You´ll want to make sure you cite your sources correctly in the references section too.
This step is often overlooked but can mean the difference between a letter grade (or even more). Look carefully at spelling, punctuation, wording, and organization. It may help to ask a friend to read your paper in order to get a fresh perspective. Others find it helpful to print out a draft or look over it a day later with fresh eyes.
We hope this guide has been helpful. If you need to do a presentation on your paper, see our post How to be a Presentation Pro. For further assistance, please ask a Schiller staff member or your professor. And remember, practice makes perfect.