How to write a paper for anthropology
How to Write an Anthropology Paper
Writing a paper for an Anthropology course can be a new experience for those of you that are new to this field of study. Anthropology is generally understood as the study of all people across all points in time and space, and is broken down into four distinct sub-fields in the American tradition: Cultural anthropology, Biological/Physical anthropology, Linguistic anthropology, and Archaeology. Most introductory-level courses, or “Anthropology 101”, will briefly cover what each of these sub-fields mean and how anthropologists work within them. If you’re taking one of these beginner courses, you will most likely have to write an academic paper at some point. This instructional set will provide step-by-step instructions on how to help you successfully write your first anthropological essay using the American Anthropological Association (AAA) guidelines for formatting and citations and how to find credible anthropological sources/information
Review the assignment guidelines. Knowing what you'll need to accomplish for your assignment will really help you tremendously in every step of the way.
- Get all of your supplies organized and have everything on hand.
- Make a quick schedule to help you stay on track. If you have plenty of time before the due date, set up daily goals to help you stay on track with all of the research and writing you might have to do. Spreading out your workload will definitely help take away some of the stress.
- If you have plenty of time before the due date, set up daily goals to help you stay on track with all of the research and writing you might have to do. Spreading out your workload will definitely help take away some of the stress.
Outline your essay.
- Obviously this step isn't anthropology-specific, but it really is one of the most important steps when it comes to writing any paper.
- Try to start and finish your outline in one sitting. You can always edit it as you move along, but having a complete outline before you start the actual writing process will help you work a lot quicker and more efficiently.
Understand the relevance of your thesis statement.
- American anthropology has four distinct sub-fields: archaeological, cultural, linguistic, and biological/physical. Knowing how you can apply one or more of these sub-fields to help support your argument is crucial to anthropological writing.
- How do you know which field applies to your paper's topic? The answer is usually all of the above. In very basic terms, everything that has anything to do with people can be observed and analyzed anthropologically.
Do your research!
- The Internet is a magical and wonderful place for conducting research. Just make sure that you know where to look when it comes to credible resources.
- Know the difference between scholarly and public sources.
- Get familiar with your school's library system. Many universities and colleges have free and easy-to-access websites that can access great material.
Introduce yourself to the AAA Style Guide.
- This is the official formatting guideline for the American Anthropological Association.
- You can access a free PDF of it here:
- Although you may not use this format in an introductory-level course, anyone who wishes to pursue their degree in anthropology will most certainly have to write a few papers using this.
Before you start working on your first rough draft, review all of your materials.
- Make sure you understand all of the vocabulary and key concepts from your notes and textbook.
- Does your thesis statement makes sense and do your topic sentences support your claims?
- Do you have enough sources for your assignment? Are they credible, accurate, and relevant?
Ready, set, go!
- Remember to follow your outline and stick to your writing schedule (if you made one).
- Take short breaks every hour or so to review your work, or to simply just give yourself a rest.
Finished your rough draft?Find yourself an editing buddy.
- Ask them to look for things like logical flow of ideas, clarity, and get their overall opinion first. Spelling and grammatical errors should be noted, but not the main focus of this part in the editing process.
- Once you have their feedback, start working on your final masterpiece.
When you finally reach the end, give your paper one last editing session. You can either have someone else do this or do this yourself. Final checkpoints:
- Have you completed all of the prompts or answered all of the questions that may have been listed in the rubric?
- Did you meet the length requirements?
- Does the format and citation style comply with the rubric as well?
- Can you identify your thesis statement and topic sentences?
- Did you successfully support your claim?
- Did you cite your sources properly?
- Are there any spelling or grammatical mistakes?
- How did you apply your knowledge of anthropology in this paper?
If you can answer "yes" to everything, turn your essay in and wait for your A+!
- Here are a few links to some really great anthropological websites. Check them out if you get stuck on your research step.
- American Anthropological Association website:
- Anthropology Resources on the Internet:
- The Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology:
- University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology Department:
- Student Guide:
- Cultural Anthropology (website):
- Jean and Alexander Heard Library:
Things You'll Need
a computer with a word processor program
your class notes and textbook
access to the Internet
Sources and Citations
- DTRave (Creator). (2007). Cartoon Computer and Desktop [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Dannya (Creator). (2005). Primary Schedule [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Isaiah658 (Creator). (2015). Paper and Pencil 2 [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- SRD (Creator). (2006). Comic Clouds 8 [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Steve Lambert (Creator). Library Book Cart [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- American Anthropological Association logo [Image], Retrieved from:
- J4P4N (Creator). (2015). Messy Desk [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Wesd440 (Creator). (2015). Man Typing (Improved) [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Danilo (Creator). (2015). Edit [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Danzajick (Creator). (2015). Reading Activates Your Imagination [Clip-art], Retrieved from:
- Mazeo (Creator). (2010).
Video: 4 Tips for writing Anthropology Research Papers
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