(Courtesy of the CSU Writing Center)
- Have someone who is not in your field read your work. If it is clear to them then it will most likely be clear to an outside reader.
- Read your paper backwards, from end to beginning. You can catch typos that you would normally miss when you are caught up in the content of the paper.
- If you come across a phrase that sounds confusing or unclear, try finding a different phrase to express the same idea.
- When reading your work, consider whether or not your ideas flow logically from one to the next in order to make your writing clear and avoid confusing your readers.
- If you're having trouble getting started on a paper, try using the dictionary and looking up the specific words of the assignment to help you get a foot-hold into what is really being asked of you.
- Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.
- If you're worried your writing doesn't meet the criteria for the assignment, don't be afraid to ask your instructor for clarification.
- Always watch out for "deadwood." It's easy to show students how to find it in their writing, and eliminating it almost always adds clarity.
- Use active verbs. They command attention and demonstrate authority.
- Avoid cliches "at all cost."
- If you're having trouble getting started with a paper, try the following: find a vacant classroom with a whiteboard and map ideas out. The classroom setting improves focus and connections between ideas are easier to spot.
- Avoid redundancy and unnecessary details. If you express your ideas concisely, the organization of your paper will become clearer and you may find it easier to write.
- If you feel frustrated with a case of "writer's block", spend some time away from the computer simply freethinking and brainstorming. Feel free to step back and gather whatever ideas come to mind, and sort through them later to decide what you want to incorporate into your writing.
- Try to incorporate more writing in your everyday life. Keep a journal of random thoughts or dreams, or write your to-do or grocery lists in a creative way. When you are constantly putting your ideas on paper, you become be more comfortable writing when you're required to.
- Avoid distractions. If you have writer's block, try going on a long walk or jog. Listen to "wordless" or symphonic music and try to focus on the topic you need to write about. Even without music, just moving around outside can clear up even the worst of writer's block symptoms.
- Procrastinate much? Starting a paper early is ideal; however, if you tend to do papers "at the last minute" consider the following: Try to write in segments. Simply try to begin your paper and get a few paragraphs, or even just an intro, days before the paper is due. Then, each day try to add to it. More often than not, once you get started you will get most of the paper done and not have to stress out the night before it's due!
ADDITIONAL PAPER TIPS
Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
SERVICES AND RESOURCES
DISCUSS YOUR PAPER WITH US
Bring your philosophy paper to the center and staff will be happy to discuss it with you. No appointment is necessary if we are not busy; otherwise we will be happy to make an appointment. You may also contact us through our Facebook page. Our phone number is (970)491-0876.
If you just want to discuss paper ideas with us, we will be happy to do that. We also offer free printing for your papers.
Plato: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, an excellent source of reference and research on philosophy.
TED: Provocative video from remarkable people with topics relevant to philosophy.
Justice Harvard: Michael Sandel's course on Justice at Harvard University online.