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How To Write Papers In Grad School The Right Way
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By Gretchen Kernbach on May 23, 2016

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It is no secret that writing papers in grad school is a bit tougher than writing papers during your undergrad years. However, there are no specific differences that compare the two. In an overall sense, writing papers in grad school requires higher levels of skill pertaining to research and style.

Writing papers

First, all papers you write should be direct. This means you should refrain from adding in phrases like “maybe,” “perhaps,” or “could be.” Expressions like these make you sound unsure of yourself. If you stay away from doubtful sayings, your work will sound more confident. offered the following advice.

“Go through scholarly business articles and/or other students’ essays to work on your proofreading abilities, and highlight phrases that particularly stand out to you as impressive, well-wrought, and cogent. Make a list of your favorites and try to incorporate them when appropriate in your own essays.”

In addition to avoiding such clauses, it is a good idea to try and stay away from talking in the first-person tense. The reader already knows it is what you believe, so avoid using “I,” “me,” or “myself.”

Other writing skills that call more attention to themselves in grad school include quotation use, transitions, the purpose, and conclusion.

According to, “too many academic writers depend far too heavily upon quotations to flesh out their writing and make their points.”

“This is a sure sign of undergraduate-level writing,” the site said. “Graduate-level writing uses quotes in such a way that they enhance the writing, not carry it.”

How can you fix this this? Make sure the paper stays your paper. Do not let the quotes carry the message. Only use them as evidence to support whatever point you are trying to make. In addition, correctly citing the quote depicts a grad student from an undergrad. Whether you are writing in MLA or APA (most of time it will be APA), documenting the source can make or break your grade. Furthermore, if you do not cite the source at all, you could be facing charges of plagiarism.

The difference is noticeable when citations are only used in undergrad papers when it is required. On the other hand, graduate writing contains extensive research whether required or not.

Transitions do the job of smoothly carrying your paper from paragraph to paragraph. A reader can easily get lost in a paper if the ideas do not efficiently flow together. There are five types of transitions: linguistic tags, repetition, parallelism, cross-referencing, and revisiting.

For example, linguistic tags refer to lists (first, next, then), comparison (also, just as), contradiction (however), complication (besides), example (for instance), and summary (in conclusion). For more samples of the five types of transitions, visit this link.

Graduate papers usually follow a clear thesis and conclusion. An undergrad writer may dance around the thesis without ever actually having one, but in grad school you must state the purpose early on and then build off of it. In addition, the conclusion of your paper should be one of the strongest paragraphs.

Regarding research papers, undergrad and grad students tend to differ the most. According to, “one major difference between graduate and undergraduate writing is that, at the graduate level, writing assignments are rarely expected to be just a rehashing of previous research.”

“Instead, graduate-level writing is meant to be an exercise in critical thinking and personal analysis on the part of the student,” the site stated.

What some students do not understand is that in grad school you must concisely state what beliefs are specifically yours. Graduate-level writing is an enhancement of the research, not simply just agreeing with it.

Keep in mind that higher level writing means higher-level topics. Therefore, you will most likely be using more difficult terms. Whether you are proposing a new study in biology or providing personal insight on Aristotle’s ideas, there are bound to be confusing terms. Be sure to define these terms in your writing for complete understanding from your audience.

Regarding the audience, grad students should keep in mind that their papers are almost always written for a professional audience. On top of that, according to, the papers can “be publishable in a professional journal or presentable at a good conference.”

On the contrary, undergrad students write for a general audience or just their teacher.

Logos, ethos, and pathos also play a huge role in graduate writing. Logos refers to a writer’s logical thinking. According to, “when we think logically, then, we need to know what we want to write, and we need to know how to write it to make sure it reaches its destination safely.”

Ethos refers to credibility, or how your audience perceives you. Pathos signifies the emotional response your writing produces. A talented graduate-level writer should be able to include all three concepts into their paper. It must show methodical thinking, prove your integrity to the audience, and gain sympathy.

The jump from undergrad to grad school means you will have to step up your writing. The bare minimum will not get you through your classes anymore. The point of writing in grad school is to go above and beyond.

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