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Tips for Writing Assignments

Writing assignments is a must for every student. How can you write successful assignments? Here are the tips you can use to write your assignments and get top mark

  1. Be Clear
    1. Clarity in writing means being concrete, precise, and
    2. You may understand what you mean, but the reader may not. Your goal should be for the reader (me) to understand your writing the first time
    3. Orient the reader by providing good explanations for various psychology terms, especially when important to your paper. For example, if you have a paragraph on rumination, make sure to define/describe

2.       Be Concise

  1. Make every word count. Remove any redundancies or unnecessary
  2. Avoid long-winded
  3. For additional tips:


3.       Be Detail-Oriented

  1. Avoid mistakes. One is not a problem, but a pattern of spelling mistakes can cause the reader to question the quality of the entire paper.
  2. Spacing, Indentation, and Punctuation Placement. Be consistent!

Example: If you indent six spaces at the start of the first paragraph, be sure to continue that in all subsequent paragraphs.

c.       Commas.

  1. Read about correct and incorrect comma usage. Here’s a site with some basics:
  2. For the most part, students use commas too sparingly. This results in run-on sentences that are difficult to follow. For example, commas must come after introductory clauses (such as earlier in this sentence), in addition to before new clauses (such as earlier in this sentence).

Example: Instead of “When she gave her speech she froze several times but her classmates still applauded,” write “When she gave her speech, she froze several times, but her classmates still applauded.” The latter is much easier to follow.

  • If the subject of the sentence changes in a sentence, you must use a comma. Example: Instead of “John laughed and Julie smiled,” write “John laughed, and Julie ”
  1. If the subject of the sentence doesn’t change, do not use a comma. In fact, you do not need to repeat the subject’s name in the sentence if introducing another

Example: Instead of “John laughed, and he smiled,” write “John laughed and smiled.”

  1. All numbers ten and below should be spelled out in full. (Exception: All numbers which start a sentence must be spelled out in full)

Example: Instead of “John is a 9-year-old boy” or “Mary has 2 brothers,” you should write “John is a nine-year-old boy” and “Mary has two brothers.”

  1. Abbreviations. Must only be used after you have written out the full word once in your paper and put the abbreviation in

Example: You may wish to abbreviate Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy as CBT in your papers. When you first mention it, spell it out as Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In all later occurrences, you can write CBT.

  1. Avoid “and” Sentences. Avoid repeatedly joining sentences with the conjunction “and,” especially when they are unrelated, and it would be just as good to use separate

Example: Instead of “John walks his dog everyday, and he likes to read,” write “John walks his dog everyday.  He also likes to read.”

  1. J A little perfectionism never hurt anyone

4.       Be Formal

  1. Sophistication in writing relies on correct grammar. However, your tone of voice

also matters.

Example: Rather than writing that “Jacobs et al. (2003) did research to get at the causes,” instead say “Jacob et al. (2003) conducted a study to explore factors contributing to…”

b.      Use Active Voice.

  1. Instead of writing “Mary would often give Joe angry looks,” write “Mary often gave Joe angry ”
  2. Instead of writing “They were able to identify two examples,” write “They identified two ”
  • Instead of “John was the one who took the lead,” write “John took the ”
  1. “Reported” Verbs. In describing research findings, you can rely on a few key verbs, such as reported, found, demonstrated, showed, indicated, and
    1. You can begin the sentence with the author(s), such as in “Jones et al. (2003) reported that…” or “Studies (e.g., Jones et al., 2003) have found that….”
    2. Or you can cite the author at the end of the sentence, such as “Stress has been consistently linked with health problems (Jones et al. 2003).”


5.       Be Organized

  1. Use headings and subheadings to provide structure. Be systematic. Make sure that appropriate information goes in appropriate
  2. Use opening topic sentences to orient the
  3. Use transitional phrases within and between paragraphs to increase flow, particularly if the topic changes. Starting with these phrases can help: Additionally, Also, As a result, Consequently, Furthermore, In addition, Instead, However, Moreover, Similarly, Therefore,
  4. Think about separating your paragraphs Never let a page go by without at least one paragraph break.


6.       Be Thoughtful

  1. Justify Your Impressions. If you provide an opinion or impression, you must provide sufficient evidence to back it

b.      Avoid Absolutes and Extremes

  1. Unless there is 100% certainty behind a statement, stay clear of absolute statements. Word like never, always, everything, and totally should probably not appear in your



  1. For example, instead of “James et al. showed that is caused by stress,” write “James et al., showed that                                     is associated with ”
  1. Avoid “Causal” Statements. In general, do not use the word “cause.” It implies that there is one “cause” for a problem, which we know is not the case in most areas of health and psychology. So, instead of “causes of infertility in large elephants,” write “contributing factors to infertility in large ”


  1. Use interesting and relevant quotes from the film when it provides evidence for an argument or
  2. However, avoid quoting directly from any articles. Use your own
  3. The main time to quote from an article is when the statement is so technical/precise than a paraphrase would take away from the point. Still, try to avoid this. And do not use long quotes from
  4. Punctuation (periods, commas, question marks, etc.) should be placed BEFORE the end quote, not

Example: Write “John threw the ball.” instead of “John threw the ball”.

  1. Integrate the quote in the

Example: Write John said that he “loves sports.” rather than John said that, “I love sports.”

8.       Avoid “I” Statements

  1. Do not bring yourself into this paper. This is important because a) it will make your papers more concise and b) your papers should focus on the film character and the research and not make readers think about the
  2. For example, instead of “I found an article by Jones et al. that…,” write “Jones et reported that…”
  3. Similarly, instead of “I think James exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia…,” simply write “James appeared to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia…” (note how writing “appeared to” softens the statement so you are not providing a definitive conclusion)


9.       Proofread

  1. Read over your work at least twice. Read it out loud once. Review clarity, conciseness, punctuation, grammar,
  2. It is even better if someone else can review your work

Writing assignments has been simplified by the above article. We believe the above tips will help you to write successful assignments. See here for more guide on how to handle academic papers