Academic work – a standard of academic study

Not infrequently, academic work presents students with a special challenge. In addition to the exams and oral examinations, the work is the usual proof of academic achievement and serves the university for the measurement of study achievements and as the basis of the performance assessment, which in turn is necessary for the granting of study certificates and, if necessary, admission to further study sections. Ultimately, final theses (bachelor’s, master’s, diploma, written state examination) are extensive, comprehensive academic assignments. Therefore, these works are neither magic nor reserved for highly gifted students. Although there is great respect for this, especially in earlier semesters, the writing of the work is based on basic and easy-to-understand rules. The writing is practiced in the upper level of high school/comprehensive school and comparable schools. This means that every student can prepare well for academic assignments with the necessary attention. The following hints and tips should serve as a guide to help you succeed write academic assignments.

Academic papers have a theme that must be defined as precisely as possible. As a rule, it is discussed in detail with the lecturer and deals with a subtopic on the subject of the course attended. The topics of the assignment can be specified by the lecturer, if he wants to test the students in a specific way; in many cases, the student can suggest a topic of interest from the course for his academic assignment.

If the topic is agreed upon, the student writes a synopsis for his academic work that includes the approximate direction, methodology, outline proposal and preliminary bibliography, as well as scope, graphs, statistics and historical sources. If the work deals with an experiment, information on structure, measuring instruments and evaluations used must be included. This synopsis, or exposé, is presented by the student to the lecturer and he receives feedback. This feedback is very important, as it provides important insights into any existing problems, errors or illogical trains of thought. Critical feedback can be used constructively to improve the direction and structure of the work. The results of the interview should preferably be recorded in writing, so that important information is not lost.

During the preparation of the exposé, it is already advisable to have provided central literature, to include relevant suggestions, to document findings in writing, to possibly do preparatory work and to become familiar with the topic in general. Each subject or course has its own formalities for the work. As a rule, the lecturer communicates this to students; otherwise, students need to ask for the formalities. Introductory courses that cover the preparation of academic papers are obligatory. In these classes, corresponding technical literature for creating academic assignments is presented.

Academic papers have a framework that varies in detail in each discipline:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

The introduction includes a starting or problem point, a question and objectives of the work, an indication of the methodical procedure and a brief explanation of the structure. The main part unfolds the selected subject in its individual topics, e.g., history, definitions of terms, object of investigation and its theories, the core question and the methodology of the investigation, results and critical discussion. The final part summarises the findings and any further questions. For the structure: Each main point has at least two sub-points (i.e. 2.1 and 2.2). Every source must be verified!!!

Direct quotations are to be avoided, it’s typically better to rewrite the knowledge learned from other authors in one’s own words (source document) and to only use very concise terms or statements literally while sourcing them (source document). Of course, technical terms have to be used in academic papers. Whether sources are documented with footnotes or in the text is regulated in the formalities for such a work. All sources must be carefully checked. Wikipedia is usually not considered an academic or scientific source; internet sources by specialised authors have to be provided with the exact link, but recognised as a source for a particular academic work. The bibliography, which comes at the end of the academic work, must not be forgotten, of course. All used media and sources should be listed again there. Academic and scientific papers must necessarily be checked, corrected and reviewed for orthographic, linguistic and logical errors. The last step in an academic work is the submission of a clean printout with binding and/or an electronic version, to the agreed extent.