By Valerie Strauss
I keep hearing from college professors that too many of their students don’t write well. So here’s a primer written for college students on how to write an academic paper, though some of the advice would be useful for anybody writing anything. The author is Steven Horwitz, a professor of economics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. He is the author of two books, Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective and Monetary Evolution, Free Banking, and Economic Order. By Steven Horwitz
Though it may seem excessive to write almost 4,000 words on how to write better papers, the reality is that writing papers in college (and the sort of writing you will do for the rest of your life) is not the same as you were asked to do in high school. My purpose in writing this guide is to help make you into better writers and to help you become better able to articulate your perspective....The point is not to give you pages of rules and regulations, but to give you the things you need to know to create and present your ideas in a legitimate and persuasive way.
RESEARCH PAPERS AND TOPIC PAPERS
Most non-fiction class papers fall into one of two categories: research papers or topic papers. For research papers, you are expected to pick a topic and engage in independent research (usually in the library or online) to find information and sources. For topic papers, you are usually given a topic, or several to choose from, based on the course readings and discussion and are expected to make use of those resources (rather than outside ones) to write your paper. Almost everything in this guide applies equally to both kinds of papers. No matter which kind of paper you are writing you must make use of the course readings. Those readings are there to help you understand material both in and out of the course. Why would we assign them if we didn’t expect you to make use of them? The whole point of either...