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The University of Southampton
The Learn With US Transition Programme

Academic writing

Writing an essay or report is the point at which all of your research comes together. When writing in an academic way, you have to ensure that your work remains objective, that you have developed a logical argument, and come to a solid conclusion that answers the question.

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Approaching the writing of an essay can be tough, but our academic guide Hammering the Prose contains a number of tips for the entire writing process, from draft to proofreading.

The key to writing a good essay is careful planning of what you want to say. It can be tempting to delve straight in with writing as soon as you feel you have completed enough research, but without a solid plan the structure can quickly become confusing, and/or you may get writers' block. Spend some time ensuring you have planned a solid argument, and a skeleton structure of your report before you begin to write - it will make the process easier!

It is imperative that your writing is critical and not descriptive. You want to show off the strength of your argument and your understanding of the research material. If you are unsure of how to write critically, way of structuring sections of your work in a draft would be to focus on:

This way of writing might look a bit clumsy at first, but the purpose of producing a draft is that you can go on to refine the narrative when you edit and proofread.

On this basis, it is important that when you are planning out the timeline for your project, you allow enough time to produce a draft of your essay, and ample time to undertake editing and proofreading. Your first draft is unlikely to be perfectly polished - in fact it might be a bit of a mess. However, by spending time editing and proofreading, this ensures that you are submitting a piece of work that has been clearly checked for:

How long you leave for this task is entirely up to you but bear in mind that editing and proofreading can be a time-consuming process, so best not to leave it until the day before submission!

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