Learning to write with authority is one of the greatest challenges novice writers face. While most people recognize authority, they are usually at a loss when they try to explain it. In truth, writing with authority is a multifaceted skill set. Proper organization, presentation, language, voice, and research all play important roles in achieving the authoritative tone readers, editors and teachers are looking for in your paper.
While an essay topic is no more important than the other facets, it is where the paper process begins. Proper researching and fact checking are critical. Insufficient research leads to inaccuracies, and inaccuracies will undermine essay credibility. No matter how much you polish the remaining facets of your skill set, an author without credibility is an author without authority.
Research: Know Your Essay Topic
Personal experience relating to the topic of your articles is valuable in achieving an authoritative tone. Being an actual authority gives you a sense of confidence that naturally presents itself in your writing. Many authors specialize in writing about certain topics for just this reason. Having hands-on experience in the abject you plan to write about will prove invaluable. At the very least, it will greatly reduce the time you spend researching your subject.
If you lack personal experience about a subject, you will need to do some investigating. You can conduct your research using two methods. The simplest is to conduct secondary research. Secondary research is the summary, collation, and synthesis of researched material that already exists. Possible sources include written and multimedia works as well as online sources.
When you conduct secondary topics, always use the highest quality source available. For example, if you are writing an article on preventing food-borne illnesses, you are likely to find higher quality data at the US Food and Drug Administration’s website than you will at Bob’s Snake Oil.com.
Many of the essay topics you write about will require secondary research. However, there are times when primary research is preferred or required. For example, when writing reviews you should always experience the subject of the review in first person. A review based only on the experiences of others will lack credibility.
If time, resources and subject matter permit; do some primary essay research. The hands-on approach will provide both the data, and the personal experience required to write an essay with authority.
When conducting research remember these important points. Personal experience is always best. When you lack personal experience, secondary research will normally provide sufficient data to complete your project. Always use the highest quality resource available to you. Finally, if the abject demands it, conduct primary research.
Accuracy: Check Your Facts
As an author who takes pride in their work, you would never submit a completed piece without double-checking it. Look for correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation when writing an essay. Your reputation depends on submitting the piece complete, on time, and error-free. Likewise, the authority you wield as an expert depends on the accuracy of the facts you have included in your work.
Fact checking is critical to protecting your essay authority. Before submitting your work, take time to review it. Make certain all facts are correct. Look to see if your article contradicts itself. Review all proper nouns for correct spelling and capitalization in your research paper. Verify that historical dates are accurate. Finally, make certain you attribute any quotes to their correct sources.
Researchers use multiple high quality sources. Never assume that any single source is accurate. Even huge information portals are occasionally incorrect. If the source you are using cites the source of their material, check it out. Yes it takes time; but it’s time well spent.
Authority begins with knowledge
Proper research is critical to projecting the authority you demonstrate in your work. Likewise, fact checking is critical to preserving your authority. Including these techniques in all of your writing projects will give you a solid start in developing your ability to write with authority.