David Greene

Liaison Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Library

Q: What advice do you have for students about developing their academic writing skills?

A: The best advice that I can give anyone about developing their academic writing skills is this: you are not alone! As an undergraduate student, I often felt that I was at university to prove myself – that I needed to write my papers all on my own without any guidance. After all, I considered myself to be a fairly good writer already. In fact, academic writing is a much more involved process than the kind of writing I had been used to, and I would have benefited greatly from making use of the research and writing aids available to me as a student at my university. At McGill, there is support available for academic writers of all skill levels at the various stages of writing a research paper. Librarians can help you to narrow down your research topic, locate relevant books and articles, and provide advice on how to manage your citations. Writing centre tutors can help guide your writing process to ensure that your ideas are clearly expressed, well organized and convincingly argued. No matter where you are in your academic career, writing research papers can be a daunting task. If you are feeling stuck or unsure, never hesitate to make use of the excellent support that is available to you. Remember, you’re not here to prove yourself – you’re here to improve yourself! It’s advice that I wish someone had given me.

Photo credit: Merika Ramundo