Expert Tips on How to Write a Draft Paper

First of all, what is a draft? There is a certain convenience in thinking that any writing project is comprised of just two key stages, which are writing an initial or first draft and then writing the final paper. However, this is a misconception, and it is one whose roots can often be found in how graduate seminars and advanced undergraduate courses are structured. There are draft papers and there are essays and term papers. The truth is that the final draft of a term paper is not the “end” product. It is merely the final phase of a given project as it relates to a particular semester or school term. During this stage, it is important the writer gives their best effort to writing everything they can about their topic.

This does not suggest a project has to be continued, merely that the writer could continue it. Many people have difficulty understanding that this self-same rule relates to an initial or first draft. First drafts should represent the writer’s best efforts to write about a given topic, at least up to the moment of submission. This gives readers the opportunity to give constructive comments or feedback to allow you to improve your essay or paper even further.

Most faculties have their own idea about raw or incomplete written work and will indicate the point at which they will read, review, and/or comment on a text. This principle applies irrespective of whether the work is an essay, term paper, or dissertation chapter.

Important Points to Bear in Mind

  • Drafts can be likened to whole papers or individual chapters in respect of how they are structured. They should not be thought of as outlines or questions to be addressed in a particular paper. Likewise, they are not notes, collections of muddled thoughts or disconnected reflections. A draft has a thesis statement and it should set out arguments to support this statement. A draft should also take the form of prose with properly developed sentences and complete paragraphs.   
  • When writing a draft, it is permissible to draw attention to any areas or points you require or desire assistance with, but you should not ask or expect your readers to do your thinking. It is acceptable to add a note or comment. For example, in the margin, you could write, “I am unsure if this quotation is in the correct place,” or “I feel there may be a better way to write this conclusion but I do not know how to do it.” However, notes of this type are unacceptable: “What is the best way to phrase this?” You should give your readers something substantial to comment on. Furthermore, if you ask for too much help, it could be felt you are asking your readers or expecting them to do your work for you.
  • Drafts can have a certain amount of incomplete or unfinished sections. Certain sections may be left incomplete, some sections can remain in outline form, and it is permissible to leave some claims unsupported. Nonetheless, gaps of this type should be limited in number and it is unreasonable to expect your readers to assist with such gaps.   
  • References can be left incomplete in draft papers. It is not necessary for a first or initial draft to have wholly complete references or citations, but you need to make clear which parts you have written yourself and which ones have been borrowed from elsewhere. It is also advisable to make a habit of citing all sources correctly and in a consistent manner while you are going along. This reduces the amount of tedious work needed to tidy up at a later stage and it can help prevent the types of mistakes that can be interpreted as plagiarism and/or the possibility of you being accused of this offence.  

The above tips do not imply you should become immobilized in your efforts to create a perfect paper. This is a good rule to stick to – if your paper is due for submission today or tomorrow, hand it in!