- Sit down and think first: What is your topic?
- Research. Thoroughly. Become an expert on your topic. Use the InfoGuide, the Modern Language Association (MLA) (only when logged in to CampusNet), the interlibrary loans and special bibliographies on your topic. For further research possibilities, please check out our Research Links.
- Make an outline of points you absolutely have to mention (and be aware that certain items - like biographies of authors - normally do not belong in your paper): Select first and then structure your material. Do not forget that you have a limited amount of space.
- Sit down and start writing.
- Develop your topic out of the literary, historical, social... context.
- Provide definitions which are necessary for your topic (like 'stereotype', 'native literature', 'gender'), but avoid defining fixed literary terms (like 'alliteration' or 'symbol').
- Tell the readerwhat you intend to do: mention the topic, the aim of your paper and your basic hypothesis/hypotheses.
- Tell the readerhow you intend to do it: develop the structure from your aim.
- Provide information which is necessary for your topic but too extensive for inclusion in the introduction, or too pertinent (e.g. historical background, theoretical concepts).
- Develop and explicate your theses.
- Make sure that in your analysis you always give proof from the text: underline and illustrate your claims.
- Always be to the point and evaluate your writing process continually: do I really have to mention this or that in order to cover my topic? Do I really have to include plot summaries? Usually not! And think about the limited space available...
Choose from any of the following: brief summary, evaluation of your thesis, outlook. But always tell the reader explicitly what the outcome of your analysis is.
Be wissenschaftlich! Be precise in formulation. Avoid hackneyed phrases ("... kann im Rahmen dieser Arbeit nicht behandelt werden"), jargon ("the implicature of the ontology of mammals") and redundancies. Beware of malapropisms (e.g. "audio- and heterostereotypes" instead of "auto- and heterostereotypes").
Always question your method and think about possible improvements. Omit any "I's" in your analysis. Omit any subjective judgements ("I liked this character best, because she was portrayed in a very realistic way").
Be as free of mistakes as possible.
Always state your sources.
Differentiate between Primär- and Sekundärliteratur, i.e. the literary texts you analysed in the paper and the scholarly texts you consulted for your analysis. Your bibliography has to contain both.