Tips For Evaluating Your Academic Writing

Evaluating one’s own writing is always a difficult matter. However, as a student, it is not always possible to have someone else go over a piece prior to turning it in. In that case, the student must simply do their best to evaluate their writing on their own. One of the best ways to do this is to create a checklist of questions to be answered with the piece in mind.

  1. Is the thesis statement clear, understandable, and does it present an argument that the writer supports or refutes?

    A thesis statement is more than a main idea. It is the author’s position on the topic. ‘The short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”’ is not a thesis statement; ‘The short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a feminist piece of literature,’ could be. An academic writing piece is not an encyclopedia article which simply regurgitates facts for the reader, it is a paper which gives the writer’s position and defends it using reputable sources.

  2. Are the supporting ideas used to defend the thesis statement effective in doing so?

    Be honest; are the supporting ideas used to defend your thesis adequate? Are there other points which could easily be used to refute it? If so, are these covered in the paper in such a manner that they are shown not to have an effect on the thesis statement?

  3. Are the sources used sufficient?

    Academic papers require citation from reputable sources. Sources are determined to be reputable based upon the conventions used in the field of study the paper is written for. Original sources, peer-reviewed journal articles, and other verifiable sources are typically required. Also, there should be enough evidence in the form of different sources to support the thesis statement. A single article is not a sufficient number of sources to support a thesis statement.

  4. Are citations clear and logically placed?

    The method of citing sources in text will vary according to formal style requirements, but regardless of the method being used, the writer should ensure that the citations are well-placed and accurate. This is usually simple when making direct quotations or directly sourcing a fact or figure; when citing a concept or an idea indirectly, however, it can be a bit more tricky. Go through the paper and highlight sourced concepts and then examine the citations you’ve used to identify the sources from which they were drawn.

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