Professors' Pet Peeves and How to Avoid ThemWriter's Web
(printable version here)

The following list is not a complete list of all the pitfalls you may encounter in any professor's class. In addition to following the advice below, be sure to meet with your professor both before handing in your paper and after getting it back, so that you can use every paper as a learning opportunity, and so that you can do better on your later papers.

  • The word ‘data’ is already plural
    • Make sure that you have verb tense agreement when using the term data
      • Incorrect usage: “The data suggests that…”
      • Correct usage: “The data suggest...”
  • Don't try to impress the professor with fancy jargon
    • Use terms consistently
    • Professors find it can be very difficult to read and understand a paper in which the same word is used multiple times in different contexts
    • Make sure that you are not varying to terminology to make the paper more ‘exciting’
  • Be specific and be concise!
    • Do not “waste space”
    • Make sure that each point you are making pertains to your study and is said in a clear and simple way
    • “Beyond all else, your primary goal is to be clear” – Dr. Lindgren

See the Writer's Web page for more faculty pet peeves.

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