There are certain foundations of education that are expected by the time you reach the university level. One of those expectations is that you can write an academic paper, and write it well. This skill is part of the typical education system from elementary school through college graduation and is a cross-curricular standard in every subject. It’s not surprising, then, that your university professors expect at least a stable foundation in writing from you.
But when you’re a budding academic writer, it’s easy to get intimidated by the sheer workload and amount of information you’re inundated by. You forget that you have the basic skills in you or you wouldn’t have made it this far. Sometimes, what’s more, important than the knowledge of a subject is your own confidence in yourself and your abilities.
University-Level Expectations of Writing Skills
While academic writing of research papers is a different format from what you may be used to, there are conventions of drafting papers that you already know that can help you familiarize yourself with the new expectations.
By university level, professors expect you to know and formulate papers with these guidelines in mind:
● Writing to a specific audience. As you have grown in your writing abilities, you’ve written to multiple targeted audiences. With your research paper, you’ll be writing to different audiences as well, such as a grant reviewer or the publication’s readership.
● Being direct and concise. When you’re trying to reach a word count or page requirement, it’s tempting to ramble off-topic. A sign of a competent writer is the ability to fill the requirements while staying on relevant subjects.
● Writing as an authority on the topic at hand. You did the research, you learned the content, you’re expected to write about it as though you are an expert on the field. Avoid ambiguous language and doubt.
● Having a purpose in mind from start to finish. This is often why professors suggest or require outlines. Your purpose should be clear throughout the entire paper.
● Following a specific, set technique, including mechanics and grammar. The structure of your paper should be set up following proper formatting techniques and you should have clearly edited or had another person edit, your paper before submission.
Once you have these basic foundational writing skills mastered, the next thing to work on isn’t a special writing format or a magic technique. It’s your confidence in yourself.
Building Confidence in Your Writing Abilities
As children, we are taught how important self-confidence is. We’re shown strategies, role-modeled proper responses to real-world situations, and shaped and molded by our environment. By the time we’re adults, these scenarios and our experiences have determined our level of confidence in ourselves, and it takes significant work to shift our self-perspectives.
But this is exactly what you need to do if you want to build your abilities as a budding academic writer. However, developing more confidence in yourself as an adult looks a little different than the techniques shown to us as children.
To increase your academic writing confidence, try these strategies:
● Sign up for an online writing course or work with a tutor to locate and work on your weaker areas. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and learn how to compensate and adjust for them.
● Increase your vocabulary. There are many ways to do this, including reading a wide variety of books, signing up for daily vocabulary-building emails, and playing games like crossword puzzles and activities designed specifically to teach new words.
● Learn what not to do in writing. When it comes to the writing rules of an academic paper, it can be overwhelming. But there are only a few hard and fast rules that tell you what you shouldn’t do, like using contractions and colloquialisms, repeating yourself, and being redundant with your terminology. When you know what you shouldn’t do, it’s easier to simply write and avoid those “no” areas.
● Practice, practice, practice. When it comes to practicing academic writing, the best way to get started is to read good examples of what you want to write like. Take notes on how the paper was organized, what you felt were its strengths and weaknesses, and the points you want to ensure you follow when you write your own paper. Then, continue to write your academic drafts and ask for feedback from tutors and professors so you can learn and grow.
As you build confidence in your writing, you’ll be able to tackle difficult subjects. Don’t stress your dissertation yet. Everything you learn throughout your university years is preparing you for that ultimate project, and by the time you get there, you’ll have the confidence to master it well.
Use Impactio to Help Your Confidence, Too
Part of what helps make you confident in your paper is knowing it looks good when you submit it. That’s where Impactio can help. The all-in-one platform designed for academic experts, Impactio provides templates for you to drag and drop your information, create subsections and headers, and turn your data into charts, graphs, and tables.
If you’re unsure of your work, you can access the wide network of peers who are part of the Impactio community for guidance. Additionally, Impactio’s program turns your academic accomplishments into professional PDF documents or web pages that pack an impressive visual punch! Between the work you are doing and knowing you’ve got a tool in your toolkit like Impactio, you’ll quickly move from “budding academic writer” to a professional scholar!