How to Write an Academic Essay/Research Paper

  1. Define your aim
  2. Find a thesis
  3. Formulate and structure your argument
  4. Clarify your approach
  5. Clarify methods and theoretical assumptions

Aim: examine the category gender in a play, novel, poem
Method: formal aspects, narrative strategies, use of different characters, intertextuality, etc.
Theoretical assumption: gender is a constructed category

Aim: examine the concept of tragedy
Method: analysis of structure, generic conventions
Theoretical assumption: generic conventions and structuralist elements shape literary texts

Thesis Checklist
Your thesis is more than a general statement about your main idea. It needs to establish a clear position you will support with balanced proofs. Use the checklist below to help you create a thesis. (This section is adapted from Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric Reader by David Skwire and Sarah Skwire):
Make sure you avoid the following when creating your thesis:
    • A thesis is not a title
    • A thesis is not an announcement of the subject
    • A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact (Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice)
    • A thesis is not the whole essay: A thesis is your main idea/claim/refutation/problem-solution expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.
    • Please note that according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition, "A thesis statement is a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your point of view" (Gibaldi 56). However, if your paper is more complex and requires a thesis statement, your thesis may require a combination of sentences.
Make sure you follow these guidelines when creating your thesis:
    • A good thesis is unified: Detective stories are not a high form of literature, but people have always been fascinated by them, and many fine writers have experimented with them (floppy). vs. Detective stories appeal to the...