An academic paper is a type of writing practiced by scholars, for scholars. It explores a topic and the relevant questions about this topic, for the academic community.
There are many types of assignments that require writing an academic paper, i.e., term papers, research papers, essays, thesis and reports. Depending on the type of academic degree being undertaken; an undergraduate bachelors degree, a masterís degree, or a P.H.D., the style of writing can vary or be similar to the academic discipline.
The first approach to writing a good academic paper is to understand the topic and to follow the instructions given to guide you through the assignment. A good grasp of the topic and understanding of the historical and cultural influence is necessary to give the topic a fresh approach. If the writer is unable to comprehend the context of the question, it is advisable that they ask questions until they do. Understanding for whom you are writing will assist you in taking a rhetorical stance. A rhetorical stance is the position one takes as a writer, in terms of the subject, with the reader of the paper. It can be for, or against the argument, taking a certain perspective or giving a general view.
A good academic paper should present the reader with an informed argument. If it fails to inform, it fails the expectations of the reader. The argument should be analytical but not a personal rhetorical stance. The writer must consider whether the document is serving the purpose of communicating the subject, as well as, making it interesting for the reader.
A credible argument is based on honesty and creativity. Sometimes using other sources of information shows that the scholar is well rounded and the information is credible. This should be accomplished without plagiarism, which is considered to be illegal.
Plagiarism is derived from the Latin word plagiarius, which, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, means, " to kidnap". To "plagiarize" means to steal and pass off ideas or words of another, as oneís own. To use anotherís production without crediting the source or to commit literary theft, presenting work as new and original, is also plagiarism. In the academic context, it is considered as academic fraud. According to the laws of the United States, words and ideas can be stolen. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is subject to protection by copyright laws. The copyright law of the United States of America states, "copyright occurs automatically when both of two conditions are satisfied.
1. The creation of an original work.
2. Fixation of that work in any medium of expression.
"The number of schools using plagiarism-detecting software to catch students cheating on their coursework has doubled in the past two years, pertaining to the increase in the number of incidents of plagiarism. As many as ninety schools and one hundred thirty colleges are using the Turnitin database to crosscheck childrenís work with online material. Barry Calvert, who provides the software, said that the youngsters need to be sensitized about the use of the online material and how to formally credit and reference sources, rather than just pick the chunks of the text from the Internet and pass it off as their own."
The best way to avoid plagiarism is by citing sources of the material. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a citation is " a quotation to, or reference to, a book, paper or author, especially in scholarly work." It is derived from the Latin word "citare" which means, "to cite". By citing sources, you provide your audience with information about the author, title of the work, name and the location of the publishing company, date of publishing, and the page number of the material you are borrowing.
All of this is done to give credit to the owner of the work borrowed by the student. There are two types of citation; in-body and bibliography citation. In all academic disciplines, there are different citation styles used as guidelines for establishing a sound standard of communication. There are many types of citation styles, but the most commonly used styles, by most scholars, are APA style, MLA style, the Chicago Manual of Styles and Harvard Citation Styles.
The American Psychological Association citation style, (APA), is usually used in writing and publishing for the social and behavioral sciences. It was first developed eighty years ago by a group of social scientists that wished to establish a sound standard of communication.
The Modern Language Style, (MLA), is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing of language and literature. It features brief parenthetical citations in the text keyed to an alphabetical list of works cited that appeared at the end of the works.
The Chicago Manual of Styles is a guide for American English published by the University of Chicago Press. It deals with aspects of editorial practice, from American English grammar and usage to document preparation systems. The manual has two basic documentation systems, the humanities system and the author-date system.
The Harvard Citation Style, also referred to as author-date system, is a specific kind of parenthetical referencing. Parenthetical referencing is a citation style in which in-text citation must be enclosed with brackets and embedded in the paragraph.
All these elements combine to make a well-written academic paper, free from plagiarism. To complete the assignment, a strong conclusion, summarizing the thesis statement is needed.