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Like presenting in front of audiences, writing research papers are a key skill PhD students and professionals need to master. Here are 5 simple steps to follow that should help you write like a PhD pro:
Determine what one central contribution your paper is making to the discipline. Look for parts of your research or evidence that stray too far from your argument. No matter how much you will likely have to throw out, you will be in a much better position to write a focused paper that readers will understand and enjoy.
Keep the paper as short as possible. As you begin your edits be sure to constantly ask yourself, “Can I get my point across in less space?” Every word must count and you should never unintentionally confuse your audience with lengthy sentences or paragraphs. Page length will vary across disciplines, but you should benefit by looking at a couple of published works and aim to write about 5% - 10% less.
If you’re writing PhD level papers, chances are you’re writing for professionals in the field. But this isn’t always the case. You could be writing for a graduate audience, an undergraduate class, or even for a national periodical. Don’t assume your audience will understand all of the details, but spend pages and pages defining every term or concept. Keep in mind that your audience wants most of all to understand your basic point.
In all great pieces of writing a conclusion should summarize all major topics in support of you’re a central argument or thesis. It’s no different with PhD-level papers. Well-written conclusions will not only remind the reader of what was read but also leave an impression over the entire work. You don’t want to introduce new evidence, instead you want your conclusion to inspire and promote further thought on the subject you’ve just written about.
No matter the length of the paper, you will likely have dozens of citations from previously published articles, studies, reports, and so on. Never assume that citations are just a way of avoiding accusations of plagiarism. Citations tell readers where they should look to confirm the information you’ve used in research as well as let them know where they could look for further reading. Be sure you’ve kept accurate notes about all your sources and double check that your entry is accurate.