The Input and the Output of Essay Writing at the University Level
Over decades of teaching research and writing skills, my advice to the young has always been to think of university research and essay writing as a game with rules and skills you can pick up. At least at the start, leave at the door all those "rules" you had learned in your high school days and consult a some resourceful websites, that is, if you are in high school. Regrettably it is a very different game in university life and you need to adjust to the kind of teacher who may not remember his or her high school classes fondly, received a doctorate in very narrow area of study in which you need pretend that you are an equal More important, you need understand and speak the professor’s academic language and have something to say about the specific topic you are assigned.
Now, it is likely that the subject could include the role of "comorbidity in addiction" in Health Sciences or else "the role of Solon" in Classical Studies. Always use online sources and texts for research and your professor’s explanation of the length, scope, depth and most of all the specific direction of your paper. Then take all the key words and look them up by typing in the key words and simply acquaint yourself with the subject on the Internet, which is all the research tool you need. It’s like walking around into a dangerous neighborhood. Don’t get into trouble until you know the terrain. Just read as much as you can find. Do not take notes yet.
From your readings, surely you had some ideas repeated, as in how comorbidity, having both illness and addiction as a problem, is particularly acute among the homeless, or how Solon formulated the Greek ideal of a balanced life. Begin from that often repeated idea and formulate an argument based on it as your "thesis" statement. After that check the rubric, marking sheet or checklist by which you will be assessed. That is the trail you walk down taking notes online. Here is the point of greatest opportunity as well as greatest danger. You will be tempted to cut-and-paste, and should use all the benefits of the Net, including that. You can and should cut-and-paste as a research tool, but the temptation to plagiarize is strong. Only there is a line from taking a fact or argument and the words in which they are coined, and very severe punishment for crossing the line into plagiary. There are many "tricks of the trade". Here is one. Make a "word hoard", a list of how ideas are phrased and the terms which are employed independently of its content anywhere. Now, use that as a vehicle to carry your or borrowed ideas and facts. Just be sure to give the source from which you took them.
Now comes what your instructor will feel after spending so much effort to get a doctorate as of ultimate importance. You need to do a word count, a spellcheck, and above all - document everything in your research. Use either APA or MLA documentation styles unless otherwise stated. There are copious websites which will tell you about how to write and document your citations. All you need to do is ask the Net and find a site which is most congenial. To sum up, you need never carry out the advice of your high school teacher to go deep inside and make an outline--- go on the Net and input before you can output an essay.