Guest Author - D. Lynn Byrne, Ph.D.
For graduate students, writing (and researching and re-writing) papers is very much a part of academic life. The keys to writing a "great" graduate-level paper are really formulaic in nature.
(1) Understand exactly what your professor wants and expects: Even graduate students have to bow to their professor's requirements and expectations. Make certain you have a very clear grasp of the topic you're expected to write about, the length (words/pages) requirement, and writing style needed.
(2) Follow the publication guidelines (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) your professor or department requires. Some professors don't really care which "style" you use, while others are real sticklers for details and methods. If your prof or department has a specific style requirement, make absolutely certain you use it!
(3) Write clearly,concisely and professionally. Use appropriate terminology, avoid acronyms, jargon, and overly popular "$10 words." 45 word sentences made up of 8 and 9 syllable words have no impact--you need your work to be both professional and understandable.
(4) Find an editor. Having someone else look over your work and comment on content, style, spelling and grammar really makes for a better end product.
(5)Begin and finish your writing as early as possible. You want the time and opportunity to do re-writes if needed.
Where to Find More Information
If you need more help than your prof is willing or able to provide, visit the graduate writing center on campus. Or, check out one of these guides:
Until next time!