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Every student is frequently assigned writing tasks regardless of his/her area of specialization. Students are assigned academic paper writing assignments in their content courses as well as in their English language courses. A well-written academic essay should be seen to exhibit the following characteristics.

There must be evidence of research. Many academic writing assignments require students to consult sources outside of their own knowledge. As you brainstorm, plan and draft your essay, you need to research and gather information. Your sources of information may include:

• information in books, magazines, journals, maps, videotapes

• information on the World Wide Web (www)

• opinions of others through questionnaires

• interviewing experts on the topic

Many academic essays have an overall structure, as follows:

• Introduction which includes a thesis statement

• Background paragraph that defines terms, gives history, describes processes

• Body paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting details

• Conclusion with a summary and recommendation

• References

The use of non-text materials in academic writing adds quality to your essay. Although most academic writing is primary text, graphic materials are often a significant part of academic writing assignments. Non text materials include tables, histograms, charts, diagram, graphs, and photographs.

A well-written academic paper lacks plagiarism and largely shows this by the presence of in-text citation and references/bibliography section. In-text citation is used to acknowledge ideas and statements in the essay that are not originally those of the writer. By citing your sources of information in the essay you are being academically honest and this is a desirable quality in an academic paper. Also, a references/bibliography section (which is located at the end of the essay) generally suggests that you did not plagiarize. It shows your lecturer that you took the assignment seriously by spending time to research the topic.

A well-written academic paper is properly edited and proofread. A preponderance of language (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc) errors gives a poor impression of the paper and writer. Imagine walking into a house and seeing litter all over the place. A diligent student would ensure that his/her paper has been carefully edited and proofread before handing it in.

These are some major attributes of a well-written academic paper.

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