Research Survival Guide

Posted: 20th April 2014 by Brooks Carson in Uncategorized

Welcome to college! Congratulations on making it to higher education where you will sharpen your academic skills and continue on your path to finding a career. Hopefully you have a good grasp of the basics, college writing will build off that base and move into more advanced and  detailed concepts. No fear though, here are some tips to help you succeed in researching for your college papers.

photo: Jeffrey

Research should be the first thing you do before you start your paper. The most important thing should be to know your objective, would you go on a trip and not know where you are going? NO! Knowing the objective is the first step into building your paper, it is like the blue prints to building your house, it’s important! When you do this it makes the research much more focused and precise leading to other aspects of your paper being precise and being precise and clear is the key to good writing.

What are good places to get research? Well having access to a computer is important as it will give you access to many resources, but you must know how to use the powerful internet properly to get credible and useful information. Make sure all research is credible first of all, no matter where you get it from, books, journals, magazines, internet or anywhere else. There is a lot of information out there, but not all of it is accurate! So keep a eye on it like a hawk, good examples of credible research is scholarly articles from the library and internet sources, good credible websites that are written by qualified people with quality factual information. Bad examples, would be websites and blogs that anyone can go on and write information on. Also, biased and opinionated information is also not credible. Solid, clear and factual information makes a research paper.

Make sure that when you do find credible research and decide to use it in your paper you cite it! citing that you used someone else’s intellectual property is a must and could create a lot of problems if not done properly or not done at all! Also, this is very important for including pictures or anything else that is copyrighted work or intellectual property, when in doubt always cite!

Another important fact is making sure you are finding research about your topic that appeals to the audience you are talking to in your paper. Trying to find information that grabs the reader and hooks them to your paper and that is easy to relate back to your thesis statement. Do not over research and certainly do not under research you just want the best information and most direct. This will keep the readers mind from wondering from the main point and making sure they have a solid grasp of the information trying to be presented to them.

   Finding statistics is another great thing to research and to put in your paper. It can be used as a good tool to mend you information. You can import these statistics by using a program like Excel on your computer to import the stats. Illustrations and charts are great for helping readers better understand your points. Maybe your reader is a visual learner, who knows!

Speaking of visual learners, what if your a visual or a auditory learner! I don’t think you want to  just stick your head in scholarly journals all night to try to find information if you don’t enjoy  it. So, maybe think of finding research through DVDs or podcasts or some other source of information. You would be surprised on how much research you can find in these types of resources.

This brings me to my final topic, try to enjoy writing the paper . This might be hard when your stressed out trying to meet the papers deadline or have a lot of other work but it is something that could be very beneficial to your writing success. If you enjoy something you tend to put more into it and succeed more often.  Try and find ways to make this happen, wether it is working with a good study partner or taking pride in gaining new knowledge that you didn’t know before. That is what college really is, broadening your range of knowledge and improving your total academic skills. I hope you use these tips to conquer the world of academia and become a literary wizard!





By:Brooks Carson

Pick Your Side!

Posted: 19th April 2014 by Sarah Ramey in Thesis Statements

Thesis statements are relatively easy when you think about it! Just think, it’s what you write your entire paper on. Thesis statements are the backbone of the paper, because without the thesis you have nothing to go off of and nowhere to go and if you don’t have a backbone you’re unable to move. The paper would have reached a dead end before it even started. Thesis statements are often thought to be difficult and confusing, and at one point they were confusing and difficult to me as well. I didn’t know how to write them or where in the paper they went. One important part of writing an effective thesis statement is to take a stance. Every paper you write is pretty much a debate, because no matter what you have to write about, someone in the world might have a different view. So it’s important to take a stance about what your paper will be about.

Since there will always be another side to your paper, taking a stance is important while creating a thesis statement. That might seem difficult to imagine, because it sounds difficult, but hopefully this will help make that easier for you. One example of a thesis statement that’s taking a stance is from one of my essays that I wrote earlier this semester,

“This paper will use the importance of objectivity, structure, and evidence to show how an English paper can go from just a good paper to an effective and well written paper.”

This thesis statement takes a stance on what’s needed in order to write an effective English paper. It states what side I took and what I was writing about. Throughout the paper what you write should relate back to your stance and should help the reader remember what the paper’s meaning is. Just think back to the thesis statement being seen as a backbone. Without the backbone the rest of the body is useless and weak. Without the thesis statement taking a stance there is nothing for the paper to hold on to and to fight for. This might all sound confusing so just remember that your thesis statement is the most important part of a paper, and it helps that the thesis statement comes at the beginning of the paper!

The point of taking a stance in the thesis statement is because since the thesis statement is at the beginning of the paper you have plenty of room left in your paper to defend your stance. This lets the reader know early off what your view is, and helps them get into your mindset. Even though taking a stance is important in a thesis statement, it’s important to be able to give yourself plenty of ways to back up that stance, which is when people typically use the three prong thesis statement like I did. I gave off different stances that I could take that all relate to the one topic, which makes the thesis statement more solid. The backbone has multiple connecting bones and is intertwined with all of the body, so in reference to a thesis statement you can see that having those multiple examples that help your stance stand firm and have plenty of connecting bones. The stance helps prove that what you’re saying is valid and that you have the capability to go into deeper detail.

This might all sound like a bunch of difficult information for you to take in, but professors look for a thesis statement that’s well constructed with a stance that you’re able to back up in your writing. That’ll help your paper get a better grade and it will help the paper flow better. With your stance being so boldly stated in the thesis you can spend your paper throwing in so much to back it up. So remember that by taking a stance in your thesis statement the professor will be able to understand what your paper will be about and your view on the paper, which will help your grade because of him understanding. This will help you improve your writing for many years to come!

Never Go With Your First Idea

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Jon Ness in Thesis Statements

Welcome to the best four years of your life. College is something you can only live once, so live it up ladies and gentlemen. Through out your four years of college you will have to write unknown amounts of papers. I was in your very shoes just last year, I had no idea what to expect when it came to college level courses. Don’t worry it’s not as bad as you think it will be. I’m not going to lie to you, yes you will have papers that are upwards of ten pages but professors do not just spring them on top of you and expect them to be written in a week professors give you more than enough time to write the paper but it is up to you on how you use the time the professor gives you.

Which leads me to my next point. Success in college is all about time management, at least from my point of view. Your life in college will revolve around three things studying, sleep, and social life. As much as you try you will only ever be able to fulfill two of those at a time, so choose wisely. 

photo: danish_khan

Next as an in coming freshman I think that you should know that there countless resources around campus and online to help students succeed. Such as the writing center in the library, the libraries website, and tutors. Professors are also a great tool at your disposal that are more than willing to help a student that is struggling or quit grasping the concept being taught in class.

Further More one of the most basic and useful skills when it comes to writing in academia is the ability to create a well structured and clear thesis statement. Being able to construct a well written thesis statement is something that you learn over time. A good thesis is like a trailer to a movie, it tells you what will be in the paper but does not tell you every thing and leaves you wanting to know more.

Hence thesis statements will be in almost every paper you write while in college. Knowing how to construct a well written and structured one is crucial in academia. The characteristics of a quality thesis statement are to be specific, be brief, and state your viewpoint on the subject. This all mean that your thesis should state your main points of the papers. Keep your thesis short sweet and to the point, simply keep the thesis around one or two sentences, any longer and readers begin to get lost and confused. One of the most key aspects of the thesis is stating your stance on the subject, this mean you are either arguing for something or against it.

Finally the first draft of any paper will never be perfect and the same idea is true about thesis statements so do not think your thesis statement is cemented into the paper. First step in coming up with a thesis statement should be to research and become knowledgeable on the subject your writing about. The thesis statement should be written after the research has been done. This is so that you can select the main points of the paper and know that they have plenty of evidence to back it up your points. During writing gears in your brain will start to turn, your brain juices will start to flow then before you know it you has finished the first draft of the paper. After finishing your first draft you will need to go back through revise the paper and may realize your thesis does not match up with what you have written and argued about. This is very common, your paper has taken a difference stance than you had planned. This is why you should always go back through and revise and improve your thesis at the end of every paper. Doing so will let you make sure your thesis supports your paper and that you did not veer away from you initial ideas. 

I hope that my advice and explanation of thesis will help you succeed in your first semester in college. Just remember that time management is key, there are countless resources around campus available to students, and that a solid thesis statement can make or break a paper.

Back it up!

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Jordyn Walters in Research

I know for many new students writing papers in college can seem very intimidating, but they don’t have to be as long as you follow a few, simple guidelines. There are many important things you should know while writing a paper on some sort of topic. As we all know, when writing a paper, it is very important to be able to gain trust with the reader. It is hard for the reader to trust what you are saying if you can’t back it up with actual facts. Using evidence to prove your statements will be very helpful and is very important while writing your paper to gain trust with your audience.

Not using evidence to back up your statement is like having a significant other cheating on you. You can believe what you want, but you won’t know the whole truth until you have actual evidence to back it up. Just as you want to be able to trust your significant other, you want your reader to be able to trust you. If a situation happens, the trust can be fixed if you have evidence to prove what your saying, just as your reader can trust you if you back up your claims. It is very important to build trust with your reader to keep them engaged in your paper and want to continue to learn more about what you have to say.

From the transition from high school to college, I wasn’t used to using a lot of evidence in my paper and making sure I was backing up my claims. In my high school we didn’t do many research based papers so it was something I had to learn, but didn’t take long. When doing research, the most important thing is to back up your claims and put your research into the paper as evidence. After writing my first couple of papers, I realized just how important the evidence really was. It became obvious to me when I would get my papers back from my professors and after my claim they would often put “explain.” It is hard to trust what the writer is saying if you don’t use your evidence and explain it thoroughly. There is no need to worry though because this is something simple to fix and learn.

What is the point in doing all your research on your topic and not putting it into the paper? There is no point in even doing research in the first place if you aren’t going to connect it to your paper. One good way to do this is to use different quotations from the sources you were researching. You first need to introduce your quotation, then add it in, cite it, and lastly explain how it fits in with your assertions. It is important to make sure you always cite your sources in your text and also on the works cited page. This is a good way to get the reader to trust you because they know you actually provided the words from a credible source. After adding that into the paper, explaining how it relates to your claims will get the reader to notice that your claims are accurate. In one of my past papers I added a quote, “They do not have a permanent home and constantly live in unfamiliar surroundings.” (Circus Animals Cruelty) and then made sure to explain it as I said “Imagine having to move around all the time, and be in unfamiliar places, while crammed up in a small cage. They barely have any room to move and still are away from their families…” Explaining this quote that was taken from a credible source will get the professor to continue to listen to what you have to say, trust what your saying, and will want to learn more about your specific topic being addressed.

Using evidence to prove your statements is very important in writing your paper in order to build that connection and trust with the professor or the audience reading your paper. It is very important to get your evidence from a credible source, while doing this will provide clear information that you and your reader will know is accurate. This will help to show that your claim is trustworthy since it relates to the claim for a credible source. This should help your transitioning into college and hopefully make you feel a little better about it. College isn’t as frightening as it may seem right now and the writing definitely isn’t as difficult either. It can be a lot simpler if you follow all our helpful guidelines and most importantly use evidence to gain that trust with your audience.


photo: jared

Why Is Research Important?

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Corey Mills in Research

I remember being in your shoes one year ago. Walking across the stage to get your diploma, turning the tassels of your cap to symbolize you made it, and relaxing one more summer while you anxiously wait to make the transition from a high schooler, to college student. However, I would often hear from my older friends about how hard college was because they would have multiple papers to write ranging from a paragraph to eight page papers. Hearing these stories from my friends made me start thinking. I wondered if I was capable of writing at the college level or if i would find myself just like my friends. With my first year of college finally coming to an end however, I have learned that all of these stories I heard my friends tell were over exaggerated but true. For me, writing a research paper at the college level was more challenging than high school ones mostly because in college my professors expected more research than I was use to using.

My high school English teacher told our class something that really stuck with me when she assigned the first research paper I ever had to write. She said that writing a research paper is like trying to tell your friends about a movie you have only seen the preview too. What she means by this is that much like how a movie trailer only shows you parts of the whole movie, you only know but so much information about the whole topic you are writing about. You actually have to go and watch the movie to get the entire story in the sense that you actually have to go and research more information on the topic at hand. You have to research before you begin your paper because if you write your paper and thesis statement before you research, you might start to change your opinion once you start researching and just end up changing the whole paper. Researching for me was difficult at the start of my first year because I would just plug in my topic on Google and click on the first couple links that appeared that were not Wikipedia or Yahoo, skim until I found something that sounded credible, and put it in my paper. I learned that this kind of effort would not fly when my teacher handed me my D grade red ink covered paper with the words “use credible sources” or “unneeded quotations” written all over the pages. I knew right then and there that I would have to actually watch the whole movie instead of the trailer. The second research paper I had to write in college I put more effort into. At first I was discouraged because I am a procrastinator and kept on thinking about how boring it was going to be going to the library to research. Yet once I got there I realized it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be and it was easier to work and get started because I had no more distractions.  I got books to read and take notes on and of course I still used some sources I found off google. However, I would actually read the information on the page instead of skimming it and I learned that the information that I got into depth researching actually retained in my memory. Researching is important because it expands your knowledge about the topic at hand and sometimes changes your perspective about the topic that you had previous strong assertions on. Researching also helps you learn and retain more information about your major. You learn information that you had not previously known and then you start to think and question which only makes writing the paper that much easier.  I received an A on my second paper because I took the time to actually read the books and online articles.

As I have learned my second semester, you will have to write research papers throughout your college life for most classes and starting now will only make it easier to do in the long run. After all, we all come to college to help further our education so why not do some research and expand your knowledge even further.


photo: Tall Chris

Don’t Get Lost!

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Clayton Forren in Staying focused

When I was arriving here at Longwood University last fall as a freshman I was pretty nervous about several things but I can assure you one of those things was not staying focused throughout a paper. Every freshman coming to Longwood has written plenty of papers and I’m willing to bet every single one of you think you can write a clear and focused paper without much effort. The reason I know what you’re thinking is because I too thought that last fall. Quite frankly, I’m not going to tell you its more difficult than you might already think. However, I will tell you that it is extremely important in every paper, no matter what you are writing about. 

photo: Peat Bakke

Many of my high school teachers made college sound like it was going to completely different, and it is, but the basics for writing papers are still the same. There is not need to try and be to fancy or try to overcomplicate in any paper. Basically, writing a paper is like giving directions. In a paper you are trying to navigate the reader to whatever point you are trying to make just like leading a friend to your house. I would imagine everyone has had to give directions at some point in your life so you will know what I’m talking about. The most important thing when giving directions is to keep it simple. If you confuse a friend they will most likely give up on your directions much like a professor will give up on your paper. Professors in college don’t believe it is their job to decipher your paper so don’t make it complicated. Its important to remember that you can in fact put too much information in a paper. To keep a paper focused you have to make sure all your points are connected to the thesis. You wouldn’t put random roads that don’t matter in a set of directions so you shouldn’t do it in a paper.

Ultimately, everything in your paper has to be able to be tied into your main argument or else it only hurts you. If you start to add information that doesn’t help prove your argument then take it out. A short and clear paper is far more influential then a long paper with a complicated message. Once again thinking about directions is a good reference. You don’t want someone to hand you five pieces of paper containing every road between where you start and your final destination. Its much easier to follow along with a few simple turns that are clearly labeled and there are details that make them stand out to you. For the same reason in a paper, provide a few main points that are well explained and stand out to your reader. Three or four well explained points will beat ten unrelated points in every paper.

Having a focused message throughout a paper not only helps keep a readers attention while they are reading your paper but also allows them to retain the information you are presenting. If you can get a professor to remember what you wrote about then you know you were successful, so that should be your goal each and every time. When writing a paper you should consider how easy your information is for someone remember. If you don’t think your reader will be able to remember what you have included in your paper then change what you have written. Every point you make should be retained by the reader because it should be clear and well explained. If you present directions well enough then the person you gave them to will use that as a reference later, the same way your reader could reference your paper or argument in the future. In both cases, however, it a depends on how well your points are organized and presented. Tie them all together and keep your points relevant to your main cause and you will be successful.

The success of a paper requires good information but the way information is formatted is even more important in college. All information needs to be connected with the thesis or else it is unnecessary. Using your thesis as a reference will always keep your paper focused because that is your argument which is what you are trying to support throughout the entire paper. Basically, if you can keep everything simple and connected in a paper you will be very successful with all your papers.

How Much Is Enough?

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Madison Miller in Research

Many of us were told that when you enter college you would be writing eight to ten page papers. While this can be true, it really is not all that hard if you do research because you will see that researching triggers your brain and makes it easier to write. I know it sounds boring and maybe even a hassle, but it is very important when it comes to starting your college paper. Many students, as I once did, fear the idea of a research paper. I’m not going to lie, it is pretty demanding, but research lays down a foundation for your paper so that you can have something to go off of.  The amount of research needed depends on how much you think is enough to know a lot about the topic you are writing about. I will tell you that you do need to do a good amount of researching; don’t just go on Google and click on the first link that pops up. Take the time to go to the library and pick up some books as well.

Researching for your paper always comes before you start to write it. You will have a hard time starting your papers if you do not do research.  If you do not research before you start writing it is like a lawyer without his/her case. That lawyer will not be very successful if he/she hasn’t investigated and researched what he will be standing up for in court. So, that brings me back to researching a college paper, you will not be able to make a stand in your paper if you do not do research before hand.

photo: vauvau

The key to researching is figuring out the topic you are going to be researching. Do not, I repeat, do not start your thesis statement before you research because you will come to find that your thesis statement will change as you begin researching. What I suggest is you first go to the library and start flipping through books. I know this is where the boring and its such a hassle comes into play, but believe me I think you will learn to actually enjoy researching. Do not be lazy and just read through one book because that will not get you a good grade on your paper. You want to know why? Well, when you read through multiple books you will find out things you would have never known before and things that might change your mind about what side of your paper you were going to take before you had started to research. Don’t be afraid of the library you will learn to hopefully love it!

Now, I never had to do any type of research paper when I was in high school so it was a completely new thing to me when I had to write my first college research paper. I was not looking forward to going to the library and reading through books for hours, but like I said before its really not all that bad because you get to learn more about what you will be writing about. Say you have a History research paper, what I would recommend is you go to the library with an open mind. Just go in there and start reading through books about the topic you are writing about. You will see that while you are researching you will start to actually learn a lot about your topic. Researching will make it a whole lot easier when you starting writing. Also, make sure you are taking good notes because you will need them later on when writing your paper.

How much research is enough? A lot. Let me be a little more specific. You need to start researching probably about as soon as you get your assignment because researching will probably take you as long, if not longer, than it will to actually write your paper. So start as soon as possible. I made that mistake and was cramming a couple days before the paper was due, which was stressful. Make sure you give yourself a good amount of time to research, because cramming is not the key to writing the best paper you can. Taking the initiative to plan ahead will work in your favor, I promise.

You need to do a lot of research before writing your paper if you don’t think you know almost everything about the topic on which you are writing, well then you better keep on researching. You may have to go back and do more research once you have started your paper because you might find that you need to be able to explain something better. Yes, I know I told you to research before writing, but you can also do some more research if you find you need to while you are writing. There is no problem with that. Just think as if you are a lawyer. If you do not feel that you have enough research or “evidence”, then go back and get more. The amount of research you do on your paper will reflect upon the grade you get. Your professor will know whether or not you actually tried and did a good amount of researching or not based on reading your paper. Research is very important when it comes to writing a college level paper, so remember to start researching as soon as possible and make sure you have enough information to explain the topic on which you are writing about. So take the time to research!

The Paper Lies in the Research

Posted: 18th April 2014 by Michael Margulis in Research

As incoming freshman, I understand the thoughts about college writing that all of you are having, because I had them less than a year ago. At first, I was expecting only massive papers (10 pages and above) that had to be super detailed and very well written, but college writing isn’t like that. As incoming freshman, expect to write a lot of 3-5 page papers, and almost all of these papers can be written in with the same basic model. This model is subject to tweaks given your discipline/major, but overall this basic writing model consists of: an introduction with a thesis, body paragraphs (as many that are needed to support the thesis), and a conclusion. Now that sounds easy enough, right?

The way to make this model, and your paper in general even easier is knowing how to research. Every paper that you will write in your college career will need research.

Now, as incoming freshman, you’re probably thinking “I know how to research. Just plug anything I need into the old google machine and there it is.” In actuality, this is a very poor way to do your research. Many of you probably all know this from high school, but how many of you actually take the time to find the proper sources necessary? I used my fair share of wikipedia as a high school student, but in the university setting that doesn’t cut it anymore. Library databases are your best bet here at college, and academic journals could become your best friend by the time your done with your four years of college. These sources are submitted by professors and edited by professors, so the information in these sources is going to have much more accurate information than the first page of results google pulls up. Sure, this might take a little more work, but it is necessary if you want to succeed in college writing and consistently write good papers. Now, let’s move on to the “why” and the “how” of research, because this is just as important as the information you gather during the overall researching process.

First, I will talk about why we research in university writing. It seems like just a simple answer, but researching in the academic setting does a lot more than broaden your knowledge on a given topic. Researching not only gives you knowledge about a given topic, but it also helps you create an opinion on a given topic. This is key in college writing because almost every paper is going to include an opinion portion. All of the papers that I have written personally have asked for me to provide information on what I think about a given topic. Without doing the research prior to writing my papers I would’ve had no idea what to say, but with the added information I was able to develop my opinion and present an educated argument about the topic that the paper was talking about. Another key part of why we research is to develop the thesis statement. Many people think that they should develop the thesis before they actually research but that is not the case. This method actually narrows down the research because you are left researching for your thesis instead of just researching to develop the opinion or argument. In conclusion, we use research to develop an opinion, argument, and the thesis statement that in turn sets of the shape of your paper.

The next part of exploring research is the “how,” or research’s function within the paper. We already know research can develop one’s argument and opinion, but how do we translate that into the essay. The main way we can do this is through quotations. Quotations express what your research says and what the opinions of the authors are. These quotations, matched with a personal interpretation of these quotes can enhance your credibility as a writer and make it seem like you actually know what you are talking about. The other way we use research in the essay is through the in-text citation. This is used when you paraphrase information that is directly from one of your sources, and then the in-text citation is used to label the information you just pulled from that corresponding source. So in general, the “how” we use researched is completed through quotations and in-text citations.

Hopefully I have provided some valuable information that will ease the nerves as you head into your college career. Also, I hope that this can be of assistance to you when it comes time for you to research for your first paper.


The Thesis In the Introduction

Posted: 17th April 2014 by Carlos Canas in Introductions and Conclusions

As a freshman and a Criminal Justice major, I’m typical of thousands of college students who write multiple papers in classes every semester. If there is one thing I have learned in my college writing experience, it is that a well-written thesis is essential. How did I learn this you might ask? Unfortunately, the hard way. In a Criminal Justice class, I received a big fat zero on my first paper because I lacked a thesis statement that was engaging and forecast my argument. Ironically, I myself believed that I had included a well written thesis, but as it turns out, my thesis was not good enough. This experience was the spark that ignited my urge to learn to write stronger thesis statements.

Typically, this is the set up that has recently worked for me. It all starts with doing research before even starting to write any sort of thesis statement. Research is vital for creating a forecasting statement in my introduction paragraph. When I start to write, I always start with a hook, that at times, can also be a rhetorical question. The hook or rhetorical question serves as a bridge to the thesis statement which I usually like to put at the end of my introduction.

So let me start by breaking up and explaining the three parts to my effective method of incorporating a well written thesis statement into what will become a rockstar introduction.


  1. Research
  2. Hook
  3. Thesis

Research- The importance of effectively incorporating research when trying to write an effective thesis statement is vital. Without research, writing a thesis statement literally adds around SIX hours of extra work to your already large work load. How you might ask? Well imagine this: In my criminal justice paper I stated that “corruption is a problem that is expanding at a blistering pace across the United States of America” yet I had absolutely no idea if that was true… See the problem?? As a result, I spent multiple hours doing research as I wrote my paragraphs at a painfully slow pace, which also gave very little time to edit my paper. Believe me; editing your paper is IMPORTANT!

Hook– A hook is simply a part of a paper that attracts the reader and keeps them reading. Allow me to show you an analogy in order to explain the role of a hook in an introduction.

A hook in an introduction is a lot like a fishing hook. The fishing hook will always be present, but the fish will only be attracted to the fishing hook if they are intrigued by the bait on it. Similarly, the hook in an introduction will always be present, but readers will only be attracted to it if the hook’s content or the “bait” intrigues them.

photo: derekGavey

In simple terms, a hook is supposed to attract a reader’s attention and gives them a reason to keep reading. For example, in a paper about how the cuteness of puppies affects the health of college students, a writer might start his introduction with the following personal experience:

As I sat in the middle of a field full of flowers and dandelions, a small white puppy, with lush fur and a bark that couldn’t even scare a newborn toddler, ran it’s hardest towards me. The mere 9 pound puppy barked at me as if its bark was a war call, but that cute little war call gave me the inspiration to live my life with the upmost optimism, no matter how bad the situation looked.

With this statement, the reader will be interested in the rest of the paper. The writer can also use these couple of sentences to now transition to their thesis statement. With an effective hook, the reader will then have an overall better attitude towards the rest of your paper. Trust me.

Thesis– The Thesis… Well let’s not over think this alright? It’s quite simple, I PROMISE! Check it out!

The thesis statement is simply the blueprint to the paper. The thesis simply states what the paper will be discussing/analyzing and the order you will be doing it in. Once you have all of your research and a great hook, the thesis is a piece of cake! Here’s an example to facilitate the understanding of the role that the thesis statement has in an introduction.


photo: chaskerr4

Topic- The negative effects of the 2014 World Cup on Brazil’s economy.

Thesis- The World Cup is costing people the chance for better homes, health services, and safety.

Now that the thesis statement is done, let me show you how it works effectively, but simply, in a paper.

Outline of paper using thesis

  • BETTER HOMES (1st body paragraph)
  • HEALTH SERVICES (2nd body paragraph)
  • SAFETY (3rd body paragraph)

As shown in the above outline, the three topics that are in the thesis are simply the topics that will be discussed in the paper and the order that it will be done in. Simple right?!?

Research + Hook + Thesis = A+ on papers. It’s a simple equation that I use religiously when writing papers and ever since receiving the zero on my criminal justice paper, I have incorporated this method into my writing, and it has given me wonderful results.

I hope this helps and when confronted by a big ol’ paper, just remember “Carlos’s Three Steps =)”. They’ll get you through any paper!

Don’t Spoil the Fun

Posted: 17th April 2014 by Michael Mann in Staying focused

When I first arrived here at Longwood I thought English would be a breeze.  I was sure I would have no worries in the world because all I had to do was find a topic that I could give details and summarize other people’s thoughts on and I would get an “A” every time.  It turns out there was a lot more to college writing than I thought.  Writing at the university level is much different than you would imagine, professors don’t want you to sit there and tell them about a topic they already know they want to hear your opinion.

The most crucial thing you could ever learn from writing in the university is that professors want to know your opinion on certain topics.  That is why they assign you to write about controversial topics so that they can understand multiple sides to one topic and can have a more engaging class.  Professors like it when the students respond in class and want to know that you are paying attention and are actually understanding the material.  Even better, you develop a better relationship with the teacher’s especially when it comes to writing, if a professor sees your name and is familiar with who you are as a student then they are more inclined to spend more time on your paper to insure you get the grade you deserve.

In order to get the grade you deserve, start by making your opinion known in your paper by not simply summarizing your topic.  Summaries are like bad movie reviews, if there is ever a movie that you have never seen and want to read up on it most of the time you will look up a review on the movie.  A good movie review consists of a critic’s opinion about the movie while giving some details from the movie to back their opinion.  A bad movie review is when someone who has seen the movie writes out everything that happens in the movie and spoils it for whoever hasn’t seen it.  Who would want to see a movie after they know everything that is about to happen in it, I definitely wouldn’t?

For example, if I were to write a review of one of the Hobbit movies I would start by giving a little background to the movie, then transition to how I felt about certain situations in the movie while adding in some details from the movie without spoiling it, and would conclude with a final analysis on whether the movie was to my liking or not.  The idea is to avoid giving the movie away.  This can apply to any research paper you may ever right in college, and trust me you will have your fair share of them to write.  When you are writing a research paper, or any paper for that matter, you do not want to give away all of the details and lose the attention of the audience, you want to give details here and there throughout the paper to keep the reader engaged and actively reading.

            It is important to understand the distinction between a summary and brief background.  A summary is taking a topic and explaining everything about the topic without missing any details that were vitally important to the topic.  A brief background gives the reader the basic knowledge to understand where the paper is heading, it doesn’t give any vital details because the writer wants to save those as his/her reassuring points to what they are arguing.  These are completely different ideas and for the papers that you will have to write while you are in college, professors are only going to want the brief background.  That way they do not have to sit there and read a five page paper that is merely a summary of the writer’s topic.

            If you follow these steps they will make your papers better, more engaging, and of course will ultimately lead to a better grade.  Many students today have already found this to be true and are making better papers and earning better grades in all of their classes.  Hopefully this helps you to see the light before you make any mistakes that could cost you a bad grade on an assignment when you knew you could have done much better.