Writing an A Paper
Keep in mind that Economics 576 is a graduate level course. Accordingly, all your papers should reflect graduate level effort and performance. In addition to writing a focused (translation: no veering off course and/or superfluous padding), well researched, thoughtful/analytical paper, your submission should reflect good organization, punctuation and documentation.
In some ways, writing a good paper is like writing and delivering a speech (remember that speech
course you took way back there?) Ask yourself:
1) Who?s the audience? (How much should I assume the reader knows and how much should I explain? Answer: For purposes of this course: assume that you are writing the assignment for the instructor and about the top 10% of the class)
2) Remember the rule from Speech 101 Tell „em what you?re gonna say Say it Tell „em what you said
(Include a good introduction; don’t veer off course and ramble—no padding—in the body, and include a good summary and/or conclusions section)
3) How long does it need to be? (In this respect, the paper is not so much like a speech. In the case of a speech, most often the assignment is to speak “for about x minutes.”(There, the audience is sleepy
and/or hungry, and listening to your speech is merely the ransom required.) With a paper the assignment is to cover the topic, with the length more a matter of judgment.)
4) What about style? As with the speech, try to sound like you didn?t just fall off the turnip
truck (Note: For non-Southerners, that means to make it literate) Some Specifics: Frequent, flagrant spelling and typographical errors are distracting—and reflect a lack of effort and concern for quality.
It is not a moral failure to run a spell check or even proof read a paper before submitting it.
Proper grammar need not be restricted to English composition courses. Pay attention to sentence
structure, punctuation, and even basic subject and verb agreement. Words such as “to” “too” and
“two,” “there” and “their,” “hire” and “higher,” “graph” and “graft,” and “affect” and “effect” are
not interchangeable. Use them correctly.
Also–Headings (and subheadings) help. They help the reader to know what?s coming next and to keep up, and they help the writer to stay on point.
What about documentation?
Questions I invariably hear–
“Do you want a bibliography?”
“Do we have to use footnotes?”
“What format should we use for…?”
Point 1: Any paper is better/stronger if it is properly documented—regardless of any rules requiring such
Point 2: The purpose of documentation is very straightforward—merely to give credit where credit is due
If you use someone else’s thoughts, figures, etc., give them credit.
If you use their words as well as their thoughts, give them credit. Most keyboards have quotation marks on there somewhere.