November 1, 2023

From Gerald R. Lucas

1101 Essay 2 and Week 4 Feedback

Happy November! I hope everyone is well. I have reviewed your second essays, and I would like to offer some guidance and feedback to help you enhance your academic writing skills. In particular, I want to emphasize the significance of research, utilizing secondary sources, and documenting them correctly in your work. This essay asked for one solid source which should not be a web site. Most of you ignored the latter part of this. No worries, this time.

Research is an on-going endeavor, and it is something we will be covering more formally later. However, you should begin to support everything you write with evidence. In academic writing, this usually takes two forms: evidence from the primary text (when writing about literature, for example), and evidence from secondary sources. Secondary sources are materials or texts that analyze, interpret, comment on, or discuss primary sources or the subject you’re writing about.

For our class, consider secondary sources those written by experts that you use to support your assertions in essays. In other words, these are sources you find in your research to develop your ideas.

Research Proficiency

Successful academic writing often relies on thorough research. Your essays should reflect a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Ensure that you have explored a range of reputable sources that provide a well-rounded view of your subject. Scholarly books, academic journals, and reliable online databases (like Galileo) are excellent starting points. To improve your research proficiency, consider reading They Say I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Graff and Birkenstein, which provides valuable insights into incorporating external voices effectively into your essays.[1]

Using Secondary Sources

Integrating secondary sources into your essays can greatly enhance the depth and credibility of your arguments. When selecting secondary sources, be discerning. Opt for authoritative works written by experts in the field. Make sure that the sources you select directly relate to your thesis and support your claims. "The Norton Field Guide to Writing" by Bullock and Goggin is an invaluable resource for understanding how to incorporate secondary sources effectively into your writing.

Proper Citation and Documentation

Accurate citation and documentation are non-negotiable in academic writing. Failing to cite sources correctly can lead to accusations of plagiarism and jeopardize your academic integrity. Utilize a recognized citation style, such as MLA. Remember to attribute ideas, quotations, and paraphrased content to their respective sources. For comprehensive guidance on citation styles, consult the MLA Handbook.

In our class, you should enter our sources in the “works cited” tab of Deep Dives and include parenthetical citations in the body of your essay’s texts. Many of you listed a source or two, but failed to actually cite it in your essay.

Each of your essays for this course are an important opportunity to practice the skills necessary for scholarly writing. Developing your research abilities, mastering the art of incorporating secondary sources effectively, and documenting them correctly are critical steps towards becoming adept academic writers. I encourage you to review the mentioned texts and reach out to me or visit the university’s writing center for further assistance.

Our readings will be discussing these ideas in more detail over the next couple of weeks. I look forward to witnessing your progress in the upcoming assignments. Your dedication to refining these essential skills will undoubtedly lead to academic success.

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In addition, everyone should review what a thesis statement is. Like research, writing a focused thesis statement is important in academic writing. A well-constructed thesis statement serves as the linchpin of your entire essay, guiding both you as the writer and your readers throughout the exploration of your topic. To enhance the overall quality and clarity of your essays, it’s imperative that your thesis statements are strong and focused. Your thesis should encapsulate the main argument of your essay, offering a clear and specific perspective on the subject matter. It serves as a roadmap, indicating the direction your essay will take. A precise, well-defined thesis statement is the cornerstone of effective academic writing, and its importance cannot be overstated. I encourage you to revise and refine your thesis statements in your future essays, ensuring they are both robust and focused to elevate the overall quality of your work.


  1. Graff, Gerald; Birkenstein, Cathy (2021). They Say I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (5th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton.