For Political Science, as well as History and Legal Studies
1- Avoid informality, colloquial language, and emotional statements:
Informality is something that should be reserved for creative writing or your blog. In other words, your writing should sound different than your speech.
Colloquial language should also be reserved for conversations with your friends. Dont tell me that Orwell really got screwed or that Marx had a lot of swag. This is an academic essay.
Approach your college essays as though they are your chance to impress your professors with your sophistication… because they are!
Finally, avoid emotionalism: just because you have experienced something does not make it necessarily relevant.
2- Do not write in first or second person. Do not use I or we unless absolutely necessary.
3- In short papers quotes are NOT your friend. A quote should be used to make an extra special point not just as a substitute for your own words. In a paper shorter than 8 pages I would avoid any quotes.
4- This should be obvious, but the sources you use matter! Do not use Encyclopedias sources like Encarta, Britannica, etc. AND ESPECIALLY WIKIPEDIA!!! – are NOT acceptable sources in a college paper. Moreover, think about the sources you use, if you are writing a political science paper freakzilla.com or kangaroo.blogspot.com are probably not appropriate.
5- Book titles should be italicized.
6- Outline and organize your essay. Outline and organize your essay. Outline and organize your essay. Outline and organize your essay. Outline and organize your essay. Outline and organize your essay. Outline and organize your essay. Get the point?
7- Proofread your essay, or even better have someone proofread it for you. Grammatical errors always count, and they also indicate sloppiness and a rushed job. Also, spellcheck is NOT your friend. For your computer spellcheck program The criminal trail was held on September 3rd is a fine sentence.
8- Avoid qualifiers and superlatives. For example, obviously and it seems etc. These statements minimize your argument. Always avoid absolutes (see what I did there?)
9- Active voice! Instead of the decision was made by Orwell write Orwell decided… Writing in the passive voice is a terrible habit and one that students always struggle with, so be cognizant of this and reformulate your sentences so they are active.
10- Define your terms. That is, make sure it is clear you know what you are talking about when you say things like the political left or democracy.
11- Keep your sentences short and concise. Paragraphs should be manageable size and address a single idea. If you outline your paper (see #6) this shouldnt be an issue.
12- If you ever do use quotes, make sure that all quotes are properly cited. Also, material that you are paraphrasing, another authors ideas, etc. should also be cited to the original source. That means the reader should have enough information that he or she can go back to the source where you got the material from and check it.
For help in citation go to: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/02/ or http://citationmachine.net/
13- Avoid repetition! The thesaurus is your friend. Avoid using the same phrases and words over and over.
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