3. Writing The First Draft

At some point, you simply have to begin writing. I think this point was more obvious when literature review research was actually conducted in a library, with pen and paper for taking notes. By using online databases, I find it an effort of self-control to stop saying to myself, “Just one more search string.”

Some people use outlines; some people simply begin writing. Use the system that works for you. It is important, however, that the draft have structure, and it is “OK” if some paragraphs or areas seem skimpy at this stage.

Your writing style should be factual but it should also reflect your thoughts — don’t simply quote one source after another without integration or synthesis!

In structure, your paper should present a clear problem and evidence-based claims. Generally speaking, the structure is:

  • Introduction.

    Includes thesis statement, relevant background, and topic definition as well as a statement explaining the structure of the paper/argument. Sometimes explains why you picked the topic and topic relevance. Be concise!

  • Body.

    Structured analysis, usually focused around two-four key points. The body is where you detail the research (sources) that are relevant to your paper.

  • Conclusion.

    Re-affirms your thesis or hypothesis, interprets the findings, suggests new areas for research. There are no new citations in the conclusion! These words should all be your own.


  • Write in active voice
  • Watch for dangling participles
  • Use spell-check!

Prior: 2. The Literature Review

Next: 4. Revising The Draft

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