Be conscious of your adverb placement

This type of problem is really a kind of grammatical mistake, but it’s such a commonly overlooked problem that we’ll cover it under the heading of style. Certain adverbs, such as only, should be used carefully.

Normally they modify whatever comes immediately after them. Although they are often placed before verbs, they rarely belong in that position.

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Use serial commas

The APA Style guide actually requires the serial comma, and other major academic style guides, such as MLA and Chicago, recommend it. The serial comma is the comma before the conjunction in a list (e.g. The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle).

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The writing process: Generating ideas for your topic

Once you have an idea of your audience and your constraints, you’re ready to get an idea of your essay’s topic. Generating ideas, what ancient Greek rhetoricians called “invention,” is the least methodical and most creative step in writing an essay. There are infinite ways to generate ideas, but no sure-fire way to generate a good one. As such, I can give you some helpful tips and techniques, but here more than anywhere else, you will need to find what works for you.

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Transitions in academic essays

Writers see all of the connections in their own writing without the help of good transitions. You’ve been thinking deeply about your topic and essay, so of course it’s easy for you to see how it all fits together. But your reader can’t always see the connections that appear naturally to you. This difference of perspective is the cause when many writers fail to use effective transitions.

This article offers four techniques you can use to make sure your reader follows your train of thought.

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Kinds of argumentative academic essays and their purposes

Most of the time, when your supervisors and others talk about academic essays what they mean is essays that present well-reasoned points of view on various topics. This article explains some essential kinds of these essays—exegetical, discursive, expository, and argumentative—and outlines their key differences and similarities. We’ll call the group of them “persuasive essays,” since they all require you to persuade your reader in some way.

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Tips on working through the body of an academic essay

By far the biggest section of an academic essay, the body is the only place in the paper that any arguments are actually made. The introduction tells what the argument will be, but does not itself argue anything; the conclusion often briefly recaps the main points of the body and suggests further study gives some or concluding thoughts, but no new argument should be made there—the body does all of the heavy argumentative lifting.

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Tense tendencies in theses and dissertations

Different sections of academic papers (theses, dissertations and essays) tend to use different tenses.  The following is a breakdown of these tendencies by section.  Please note that while it is useful to keep these tendencies in mind, there may be exceptions.  The breakdown below should help guide your writing, but keep in mind that you may have to shift tenses in any given section, depending on your topic matter.

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