Common Problems and Professors' Pet Peeves: How to Solve ThemWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Using words incorrectly because they do not understand their meaning

Don't think you are going to impress your professor by "sounding academic" and using big words. Focus instead on clarity.

Also, if there are words in the prompt that you do not fully understand, ask your professor for clarification.

See Writer's Web's page for Commonly Confused Words

Wordy and poorly punctuated

Remember, the key to a good paper is clarity. If your message is getting lost in too much text and/or because of misused punctuation, then your professor won't be able to tell that you understand the assignment.

See Writer's Web sections on Run-on Sentences and Punctuation

Not understanding how to create a logical argument

See Writer's Web's section on Reasoning: Arguing Cogently

Introductions that explain nothing and simply repeat the essay prompt; conclusions that sum up by repeating rather than developing or exploring implication

See Writer's Web for Preparing to Write An Introduction and Writing Effective Conclusions

Not leaving enough time for writing results in a "rough copy" being handed in

The key here is starting the paper earlier than the night before it is due. Give yourself enough time to write at least one draft before editing it closely and handing it in.

See Writer's Web for Signs of a Rushed Paper

Being overly critical

When incorporating the work of an academic, instead of being overly critical of their work, try to pull out the similarities and differences between their ideas and your own.

Focus predominantly on your original ideas instead of other individual's theories, ideas, and concepts to avoid this issue.

Overly broad terms such as "Society . . . they; leaders . . . that."

Try to refrain from using such broad, vague terms by identifying what you are specifically trying to say when you use such phrases. By unpacking these "suitcase" words, you will give your audience a much clearer idea of the point that you are trying to get across.

Not proofreading for citation errors or using proper format

Go back to the assignment that was provided to you by your professor and double check the format that they prefer you use for your paper. If the professor does not identify the style that they prefer, be sure to contact them and find out.

When you are finished with your paper, read back through your paper to be certain that the quotations and citations that you used are correct and effective.

Get citation help from the UR library citation guide

Summarization versus analysis

Summarizing is the act of simply restating, in your own words, the work of another individual. Different from this, analysis is when you take another person's work or argument and draw out the relationships within the work.

See the Writer's Web page for What is Analysis?

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