Focus on Euclid ACA-401: (Writing International Academic Papers)

Focus on Euclid ACA-401: (Writing International Academic Papers)

ACA-401 is a fundamental starting in all Euclid-developed curricula (i.e. all Euclid University programs) because its purpose it to level the playing field. After all, not all incoming students have English as their native language, and many have not formally studied the ‘science’ and ‘art’ of academic paper writing, especially in an academic context. For instance, few are aware that the placement of punctuation is different in US and UK English. And many come from institutions where graduate papers are accepted even if they lack a proper structure (with headings and sub-headings). Finally, many students are used the so-called in-text or parenthetical citation method which is problematic and which is not accepted under EUCLID standards.

At the end of ACA-401, all students will be able (and expected to be able or else refer to ACA-401 material) to write a graduate level academic paper that will have the following features:

  1. uses either UK or US English with consistent spelling and placement of punctuation
  2. uses the footnote approach to references rather than the in-text approach, while being aware of both
  3. uses a proper and consistent format for the footnotes and bibliography, which means using a recognized style guide such as the Blue Book (LLM students)
  4. uses EUCLID’s starting Word document as template
  5. uses in EUCLID’s templates the appropriate Word styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, Normal, Quote)
  6. has a clear structure with headings and if applicable sub-headings
  7. has logical flow (by using connectors such as “However,” “Therefore,”)
  8. is free of spelling and grammatical errors, also with proper use the comma
  9. is free of plagiarism and used citations appropriately.

In this post, we will consider and explore these various skills with reference to the EUCLID official syllabus for this course.

It is important to emphasize that course students must study the contents of the all Period Folder found in the E-Library. This post is to be considered as a useful summary and supplemental to help students better understand the coherence and flow of ACA-401.

Point 1: Understanding the difference between US and UK English

Students need to focus both on spelling and especially on the relative placement of punctuation and footnote reference. A good supplemental is here:

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Point 2: Understanding why EUCLID requires footnotes rather than in-text / parenthetical citations.

First, students should understand what in-text / parenthetical citations are all about. The video below gives a good structured explanation and shows a typical US paper.

Now, EUCLID does not accept in-text / parenthetical citations for the following reasons:

– Often only the author and year are mentioned, but not the page number. This makes the reference incredibly vague and almost a form of ‘name dropping’

– Even if the page number is given, the reader or instructor must then flip to the references to see what book the author wrote in that particular year

– This approach lengthens the body of the paper with citations and disrupts the natural flow of reading

– It should be mentioned that this approach was initially reserved for social sciences but has become more widely popular due to US influence

– The European Commission official guide as well as the ones used for legal papers follow the footnote approach, and EUCLID adopted that as well from the inception…

The video below gives an explanation of the Turabian footnote approach to citations:

Now, the PDF below gives instructions on how to write an academic paper based on the APA (in-text citations) style. EUCLID students can ignore the citation format suggested here, but the rest of the information is excellent and applicable.

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Below is found sample EUCLID Academic Paper formatted accorded to EUCLID’s guidelines

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Point 3: Using a consistent and acceptable style guide

  • For EU based students, we recommend the official style of the European Commission.
  • For LLM students, we recommend the Blue Book style.
  • For other students, we recommend the Turabian style.

Point 4: Using EUCLID’s Word document template as starting point

This is very important, and very simple. Just access and download the EUCLID Word template, and save it on your Desktop or in another convenient folder. Whenever you want to start a paper, open the template and immediately save it under the proper name. For instance, a student named John Young working on DIP-401 major paper 1 would save the file as “John Young DIP-401 MP1.docx”

This is important because some students recreate a document that looks like the EUCLID template but that is not the real thing. This is obviously visible because the Word styles still not look right.

Keep in mind the following points:

– for response papers, use the response paper template which is single-spaced

– for major papers, use the response paper template which is double-spaced

– for the quiz, download a sample and use that file as your starting point.

If you do not have Microsoft Word, ODT file templates are available

Point 5: Using styles in Word

This is a fundamental skill that many incoming students do not master. In fact, many students with a Bachelor’s are not even aware that Word style exist and how powerful they are, including as a mechanism to create a Table of Contents.

The EUCLID Word style requires the use of the following styles:

  • Heading 1
  • Heading 2
  • Normal
  • Quote

Point 6 and 7: Papers with a structure and logical flow

The problem with many US institutions is the low standards applicable to academic papers. In one of the video tutorials shown above, the sample academic paper is 5 pages in length and has no clear headings.

At EUCLID, a major paper is 14-18 pages in length and must have a clear structure. In fact, the Word template has a structure (with Heading 1 and Heading 2 lines) to set the tone.

A typical paper should have the following structure:

Introduction (What is the situation or problem? Why is it important?)

  • Point 1
    • Subpoint 1
    • Subpoint 2
    • Subpoint 3
  • Point 2
    • Subpoint 1
    • Subpoint 2
    • Subpoint 3
  • Point 3
    • Subpoint 1
    • Subpoint 2
    • Subpoint 3
  • Conclusion

In addition to the structure, it is important that the paper should have logical flow. The points should flow in logical sequence, and connectors should be used. Typical connectors are: However, Therefore, Hence, On the other hand, A difference approach is, Nevertheless, In addition, As an example, By comparison, etc.

Point 8: Spell-check, editing, use of comma

A paper should also be spell-checked (first set the language to US or UK English) and proofed. An effective way to do this is to read the paper out loud. This approach is also useful to make sure that the right punctuation marks are used.

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Point 9: Plagiarism and proper use of citations

All papers submitted to faculty members are screened for plagiarism, which is a very grave academic offence. Students can use “Dustball” (a free online service) to check their papers, but the best is not to cut and paste anything from the web, expect for specific citations that are truly needed. There are three fundamental reasons to cite a source:

– to cite a primary source

– to cite an expert or authority to strengthen a point

– to cite a source that illustrates a problem, perception, etc.