As a college student, you are probably taking four, five, or even six classes simultaneously. In many, if not all of those classes you are probably required to conduct research and produce research-based writing. So far in this chapter, we have discussed some general principles of academic research and writing which, I hope, will help you improve as an academic researcher and writer regardless of your major or academic discipline in which you work. In this segment of the chapter, I would like to offer a practical checklist of approaches, strategies, and methods that you can use for academic research and writing.
- Approach each research writing assignment rhetorically. Learn to recognize its purpose, intended audience, the context in which you are writing and the limitations that this context will impose on you as a writer. Also treat the format and structural requirements, such as the requirement to cite external sources, as rhetorical devices which will help you to make a bigger impact on your readers.
- Try to understand each research and writing assignment as best as you can. If you receive a written description of the assignment, read it several times and discuss it with your classmates and your instructor. If in doubt about some aspect of the assignment, ask your instructor.
- Develop and use a strong and authoritative voice. Make your sources work for you, not control you. When you write, it is your theories and your voice that counts. Research helps you form and express those opinions.
- Becoming a good academic researcher and writer takes time, practice, and rhetorical sensitivity. It takes talking to professionals in academic fields, such as your college professors, reading a lot of professional literature, and learning to understand the research and writing conventions of each academic discipline. To learn to function as a researcher and writer in your chosen academic discipline or profession, it is necessary to understand that research and writing are governed by discourse and community conventions and not by rigid and artificial rules.