Five tips to ace your academic paper

Student with academic paper

Handing in a thesis or dissertation is a big moment in your academic career, but it can also be a cause of anxiety if you’re not certain you’ve done everything 100% correctly. We spoke to Sanet van der Westhuizen from Reference Referee to get some tips to make a good impression on your examiner and ace your paper.

A relevant, well-motivated research problem, comprehensive literature review, rigorous methodology and critical interpretation of the results are the building blocks of a sound scientific dissertation or thesis. It is, however, the details in the writing up of the study that can often determine the examiners’ opinions. The following aspects will be decisive in the quality of the overall product:

1. Go full circle – Make sure to describe the aim of the study in the last chapter again, showing how the study achieved the set out objectives. That is for both the theoretical and empirical objectives of the study.

2. Consistency is key – Adhere to a sequence and consistency throughout the whole document. An example of this could be to always address your variables in a specific sequence or order. The way in which you mention the variables in the title will be the order in which you address them in the literature review or the order in which you present the measuring instruments of each of the variables. Consistency creates order and helps your reader to establish a framework of your study.

3. Strategically include tables and graphs – Always include a reference to a table or graph in the text, indicating to the reader the objective of the table or graph. If you don’t do this, your reader will not know when or how to integrate your illustration into the argument that you are presenting. It should also not just be a repetition of information already presented in the text, but should contribute a unique perspective.

4. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s – Proofread your work a number of times to ensure that there are no typing or technical errors in the document. A sloppy approach in your presentation distracts from the scientific credibility of your study.

5. No compromise on academic integrity – Make sure to follow the required referencing style to perfection. Both in-text citations and your reference list should be faultless. That again confirms the academic quality and integrity of your work. This aspect could be outsourced to an editor. Reference Referee is such an editor that can proofread and correct all academic texts according to the APA style (6th ed.). Visit for more information.