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09/05/2012

Using an Academic Writing Service Responsibly

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Many students who use a writing service do so with the intent of simply putting their name on the finished product and turning it in as their own work. That’s their choice, but they do themselves a huge disservice by not taking advantage of what can be an excellent learning opportunity.

Each academic project we write should be used as a model, or a guide for you to complete your own work. You have probably seen model papers used in class lectures many times, as examples of what your professors want you to produce. Using a strong essay as a teaching tool is a long-established and effective practice; those of us here at WCWT who are current college profs use this technique in class consistently. A well-written model paper can teach you a lot about every aspect of writing, including crafting introductions and thesis statements, paying attention to audience, providing and documenting appropriate support, structuring sentences and paragraphs, and using transitions. A close reading of a model essay could help you see that you should save your strongest point for the end, or open with an anecdote, or use a particular tone, for example.

Model papers can also teach you a good deal about various kinds of writing assignments. What does a good literary analysis look like? How do you approach a case study? What are the features of a strong argument? You can also nail down some puzzling formatting and citation issues, which vary depending on whether you’re using MLA, APA, or another style.

Of course, you don’t need to hire a writing service to use and learn from model papers. Your professors can most likely provide you with samples if you ask, as well as help you one-on-one with your essay. Or, you can visit your school’s writing lab, which is always an excellent resource for writing assistance. Even better, both of these options are free.

For the times you’re really stuck, though, and just have no idea how to proceed despite visits with your professor and the writing lab staff, having a model paper on your specific assignment can often provide you with the tools you need. Instead of turning it in as your own work, you can markedly advance your skills as a writer by using the model paper to help you with your own writing. Becoming a better writer is closely linked to becoming a better reader; analyzing the strategies used in a model paper gives you writing techniques you can use now and in the future.

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