First Steps to Research: Typical Mistakes That Undergraduate Students Make When They Approach Academic Writing

Tamara Oshchepkova


Research-based projects are traditionally targeted at senior undergraduate or postgraduate students. In this paper, we advocate teaching research skills to freshmen rather than older students. Academic writing might be a challenge for university freshmen, especially if their previous learning experience has not involved composing a structured written text that clearly presents the writer’s point of view and supports it with facts and statistics from scholarly sources. The author analyses the problems that freshmen might face in the initial stages of research skills development and offers classroom activities that could help students overcome difficulties related to selecting sources and integrating them into the written text. At the beginning, a brief literature review is presented, which illustrates that the problem of freshmen academic writing has not been researched sufficiently. In the section Discussion, the author shares some examples of activities targeted at solving typical problems that freshmen face while writing research-based papers. For instance, among the suggested activities are those that might help students a) learn to differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources; b) decide on the length of the cited excerpt; and c) make judgements about the relevance of the selected source to the purpose of the research paper. Davidson (2018) referred to course-based research as ‘a new pedagogical paradigm’. The author of this paper supports this opinion and emphasises that such a paradigm should be applied in the earlier stages rather than at the level of PhD or Masters studies, which might yield a significant improvement.

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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