Some Things I Assume You Learned About the Academic Writing Process in English 104
Theses (assertions about a topic) are essential to academic papers, but they ordinarily do not leap full-grown from writers' heads before the paper is written. Professional writers develop their theses' accuracy and complexity as the paper grows, and as they learn more about the subject and audience while trying to explain themselves. Professional writers never exaggerate the strength of their thesis, and recognize clear distinctions between proving something is possible, uncertain, probable/improbable, certain or impossible.
Academic papers tend to be organized to build a bridge of facts and reasoning between what readers can be expected to know and believe to what new but related thing the author wants the readers to believe. Identify and get to know your paper's "best readers" to focus your thesis. Tell your best readers only and all that they need to know, in the order in which they can best understand it. That is probably not the order in which you discovered it. Click here for a brief description of "best reader" characteristics you can assume for each paper you write for this section of English 105.
Academic writing is too intellectually challenging to be done casually in one sitting, like an email or a text-message. Professional writers need pre-writing like lists, conceptual maps, and short-phrase outlines to collect what needs to be said. For complicated projects, they often need a "writing plan," scheduling what needs to be done, listing what the writer needs, and targeting a completion date before the actual due date. Professional student writers will include talks to Writing Center tutors in the early, middle, and late stages of the paper's development. Professional writers do not work alone.
Research is a continuous process in the life of a scholar, following the scholar's curiosity actively to find the best sources, never stopping with those which are the easiest to find--quick and easy sources are the enemy of the best sources.
Even scholarly experts rely on introductory sources in a "ladder of expertise" when breaking into unfamiliar topics to help them learn terms of art and basic concepts essential to understanding expert writing, but they never make the mistake of quoting encyclopedias or dictionaries as if they were expert writing.
Even first-year students need to know about the way expert knowledge is constructed by scholars working within disciplines, and they need to know the limits of how far English 105 can take them.