If you’re writing a college-level research paper, most likely your instructor has told you that you must use a certain type of “source.” The language used to describe these sources varies, but in general, your teacher expects you to use high-quality sources for the information in your paper. Let’s take this concept apart so you have a better understanding of exactly what your teacher expects.
In one of my earliest blog posts, Learning to Write Well: Why Bother?, I wrote that you will likely need to be able to write effectively throughout your life, whether that’s for professional or personal reasons. Writing for college classes, however, is a very specific type of writing that requires a specific skill set. A lot of students come into college missing at least some of these skills. In a later post, I will talk about imposter syndrome and why students enter college with varying levels of preparation, but for now, just know that a lot of students enter college these days without the skills they need to write a successful college paper. That’s literally the reason this blog exists.
Not knowing what’s expected of your academic writing in college is not a measure of intelligence; it is a measure of preparedness and understanding.
So let’s get started.