Essays, Research Papers, or Reports

Choose a topic

Your instructor may have given you a topic for your assignment, or you may be able to select your own. If you can select your own topic, choose one that will make the research and writing process easier. You can do this by conducting preliminary research. Review your course materials for information on your proposed topic. Search what is available from the ACC library. Preliminary research like this helps ensure that the topic you choose is one you can find resources for.

This video from Valencia College Library will explain how research is part of choosing your topic.

Create your thesis

Now that you’ve selected a topic, you need to write a thesis statement based on that topic. A thesis statement is one or two sentences that clearly state the purpose and argument of your paper.

This Learning Curve video will explain how to create a thesis statement.

Create an outline

This essay sample template will be helpful to you in creating your outline. Also see this video from the Learning Curve describing how free software (Mind42) can be used to create an outline for your paper.

Your assignment may require you to incorporate sources. You can do this by paraphrasing. This Learning Curve video shows two strategies that you can use to paraphrase.

There may be information that you want quote directly, rather than paraphrasing. Quoting is when you use the words directly from a source and cite that source. This video on using quotations will help you quote and cite your sources correctly.

Write the first draft

The first draft does not need to be perfect. Follow your outline and get your ideas on paper. You have time for revising and editing later. This Learning Curve Video on writing good paragraphs may be helpful as you draft your essay.

Revise and polish

After you have a complete draft of your assignment, go back to your assignment instructions, rubric, or marking guide that the instructor has provided to ensure you have included all of the assignment requirements.

For more information on using a rubric to assess your own assignment see this resource from the Learning Curve.

This is also the point at which you should go back to your paper for self-editing. See this Learning Curve video for more information on self-editing your work.


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