Steps for drawing up a good academic paper

What to look for?

  • Before running your main search, run an initial search to choose your topic of interest, which should neither be very broad , nor very specialized.
  • Choose two or three key concepts and their synonyms

 

Where to search?

 Run a bibliographical or documental review which will help you to identify, extracts and  compile the information there is on a specific topic. You may consult the following sources

        Catalogues. To locate books, journals and other special materials, which are mainly printed:

 

         BUCLM databases. To find information about thesis, congresses, electronic books… etc. Click here to see the list. We would like to mention  the following multidisciplinary databases:

  • DIALNET. Virtual newspapers and periodicals library which contains the  indexes  of the scientific and humanity journals of SpainPortugal and Latin America.
  • TESEO. Ministry of Education database of Doctoral Thesis made at Spanish universities. It is also advisable to consult other sources of information on thesis such as  TDRPROQUEST Dissertation and DART-Europe.
  • EbscoHost. It is a platform which provides access to a group of databases in a range of scientific fields, which can be simultaneously accessed and consulted by means of one interface.
  • ProQuest. It is a multidisciplinary resource which to date provides 31 databases with over 19,000 publication titles of which 13,000 are full-text.
  • SCOPUS. Bibliographical database of summaries and international scientific journal article citations.
  • WOSCollection of databases in which quotes from scientific journal articles, books, ,and other types of printed material appear which cover all fields of academic knowledge. 

 

               Metasearchers

  • PLINIO is a BUCLM metasearcher which enables all library resources to be searched, both printed and electronic ones.
  • Google Scholar is a specialized search engine for scientific-academic literature.

 

               Repositories. They provide open access to the production of institutional documentation stemming from the academic, research and corporate management activities in our university community. RUIdeRA is the UCLM institutional repository. Recolecta is the platform which covers all national scientific repositories.

 

Remember that to access the electronic resources at the university, you just need to be connected to a computer and to the network. If you are not on the university premises, you can set up access to the VPN.

Once the information you require has been located, the following step is to obtain the documents you need. Those which are not available at our library, can be requested by the inter-library loans. Another option for obtaining a document is by means of a Desiderata. This is a request to purchase bibliographical material which is mainly for students. It can be done by means of “My library” or at the loan counters.

 

Where to run a search?

Once the information source has been consulted, we must know the system there is for retrieving it. There are some common options in all these systems, such as:

  • Simple and advanced search
  • Exact phrase: "Academic works"
  • Materials list or thesaurus
  • Joining terms with Boolinan operators
  • Geographical, chronological... delimiters etc.

Running an initial search is not usually sufficient. We need to evaluate the results and if necessary, change the equations or terms if these do not reflect your needs, or if they retrieve scant or excessive results.

We must not forget to choose only reliable and high quality documents. To do so, bear in mind the authorship, how relevant the source is, the information quality, presentation of contents and how up-to-date they are.

Once the information has been gathered, it must be systemized, organized and managed. Thanks to the agreement signed with Microsoft, the UCLM provides a series of integrated tools in Office 365, which is of great help for organizing schedules, task lists, reminders, etc. We can access them from the  UCLM SERVICIOS ON , by entering our identification with our username and password.

Moreover, there are other tools that can help us do tasks:

  • Cloud storage services such as OneDriveGoogle Drive and Dropbox
  • Notes managers such as Evernote.
  • Bibliographical managers such as Endnote: are very helpful for managing references, drawing up bibliographies or creating citations without having to know all the rules or citation styles to use. These enable us, amongst other things, to create, maintain and organize a personal integrated database for bibliographical references for drawing up a research paper.

Apart from good content, the success of a paper is based on other pillars:

A logical,clear and coherent STRUCTURE.

A sophisticated and correct PRESENTATION

 

Paper Structure

It must contain the following parts: cover and/or front page, summary or abstract (more orientated towards End-of-Degree-Thesis and End-of Masters-Thesis), general index or summary, introduction, body, conclusions, bibliography consulted, index and appendixes.

As for drafting it, bear in mind that scientific style is characterised by being clear, simple (but not colloquial), concise, specific, objective and rigorous. Some recommendations are:

  • Learn to use the specialized terminology in your discipline, use words accurately and avoid ambiguity.
  • Try to use rich vocabulary. Consult synonym dictionaries.
  • Using short and simple phrases is better than complex ones with subordinate clauses, and keep to a logical order.
  • Remember the most important thing is what you have to say. Avoid vulgarisms, rhetoric and superficiality.

 

Presentation, and Exposition of the paper

  • There are no general rules of thumb which must be strictly complied with. According to the type of paper, the faculty or school and the professor, there will be a style guidefor presentations which must be respected. However, we suggest some guidelines that are usually accepted:
  • A short but well documented, argumented and structured paper will be better viewed than a more extensive one, which lacks contents and is incoherent.
  • For the printed edition of your paper, use high quality white paper and don´t forget to number the pages.
  • Learn to use word processing styles.
  • Margins must be wide and paragraphs must be separated, and in general should be justified, so that the page does not appear overwritten.
  • The letter type or font must be standard, formal and clearly legible.
  • Different levels must be clearly established (chapters, sections and subsections of the paper) using spaces and a clear and coherent hierarchy which is maintained throughout the paper.
  • You must also present graphics, outlines, tables, figures and images which may accompany text to favour communicationin a suitable way
  • Before printing, re-read the text to go over spelling, punctuation and syntax.

 

If, in your work,  you are required to give an  oral exposition, it would be highly useful to draw up a script or outline  previously with  a hierarchy of contents. When exposing, the following recommendations will be of use to you:

  • Look after your image.
  • Try to relax and control your body language.
  • Keep to the set time for the presentation.
  • Present your ideas in an organized way, following a clear argumentative structure and back up your statements.
  • Do not shout, but make yourself heard, speak slowly, vary pace and intonation.

 

If you are permitted, you may use PowerPoint, OpenOffice Impress or Prezzi to defend your work, but bear in mind that slides are just a support. Do not read the slides or turn your back on the audience.

Plagiarism is any type of theft or improper appropriation of words or ideas taken from other authors. To prevent plagiarism and to acknowledge the work of other authors and to locate the sources consulted, it is crucial to include citations and a bibliography with your paper. There are  a range of  international regulations on this: APAISOMLAHardvardVancouver, etc., and  choosing one style or another one will, amongst other factors, depend on the area of knowledge, the instructions of the teacher or director of the assignment, as well as the conference or journal in which it is going to be published.

The ISO regulation may be consulted freely, by accessing the AENORmás database which the university subscribes to.