A college paper is an essay or investigation-based text composed for a college course. Many college courses will require a learner to submit one or several of such reports throughout the term, and will expect those papers to follow specific guidelines according to the preferences of the instructor and the dictates of the field in which the article is being composed.
Instructors typically have high expectations for college papers, and expect students to invest considerable time, effort, and original thought into them. At the same time, however, most classes outside of English composition do not focus on writing instruction. Unlike many high school courses, in which students are allowed to submit multiple drafts and then receive feedback from the instructor, most college papers are considered to be in final draft form when submitted to the instructor, and are graded as such. Therefore, college students should take care to develop their writing skills outside of class time. This can be done by seeking the instructor's feedback during his or her office hours, enlisting the advice of a classmate, or visiting the university writing center.
College papers are different from papers students may have completed in high school in two primary ways: the depth of their analysis and the quality of their presentation. A college report should not simply summarize points made in class or in the course textbook. Many teachers explicitly state this in their document assignments, but even if they don't, learners should be aware that at the university level, instructors are looking for critical analysis. Analysis is the examination of a topic in an in-depth way and through the use of multiple approaches. A college report should demonstrate that the student has spent time investigating the topic of the report and has thought about it from several different perspectives. This will often require the student to research the topic of his or her assignment using sources outside of the course textbook.
A college report should always present a thesis. A thesis is a sentence or group of sentences that clearly defines what the article is about and how the writer will discuss it. It is, in other words, the main point. It is important that a college paper has a recognizable thesis, and that the thesis is presented in the first 1/4.
Regarding presentation, many professors will demand that college papers are both grammatically and stylistically sound. To ensure that grammar and word usage are correct, learners should have someone else proofread their document or, if the option is available, they should seek the guidance of their university's writing center.
Style, when referred to in the context of academia, means the set of guidelines followed regarding the presentation of information and the citation and referencing of external sources. The most popular academic writing styles are those that follow the guidelines of the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Chicago Manual of Style. Most instructors specify their preference for a particular style early in a term.
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