How to write an archaeology paper
Writing about archaeology is a rigorous process!
Archaeology is about studying the past and connecting it to our present knowledge of human history and is a field that is exclusively about in-depth investigation. Likewise, writing an archaeological essay requires very good researching skills, good use of language and knowledge of the subject. Most importantly, you need to be very passionate about what you are writing. An archaeological paper, can be covered from several possible angles- from historical, geographical, sociological perspective.
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As part of your academic requirements, you may need to hand in several papers as part of your assessment requirements. So it is good to know what to keep in mind, so that you can avoid losing marks to avoidable mistakes.
Things to keep in mind when writing a paper
First and foremost, the topic you choose for writing a paper has to be engaging and relevant to the field. It should also be something you can carry out a study on with the available resources. It would be good to thresh ideas for this with your supervisor, so that you can get feedback on what are the best possible ideas from the ones you have.
Before you start writing on the paper, it would be good to create an outline of how you would want your final paper to look like. This would serve as a road-map in getting your paper completed in an efficient, systematic and orderly way.
An archaeological paper needs a lot of reading!
Just like other academic papers, archaeological papers may require a considerable amount of reading to be done. A literature review may be required. This is a summation of existing knowledge on the topic. This helps to provide the context in which you are doing your paper.
During brainstorming, you can think about questions related to the topic about which nothing much is known. Come up with unanswered questions and issues which may be of interest to the audience. These can serve as a starting point for your research. When you have picked up a particular topic to focus on, identify a specific question which would be answered during the course of your paper. As the research paper is of specific length and has to be purposeful, it is better to avoid non-specific and broad topics. The main idea of the paper can be expressed in the form of a question. You can then relate the hypothesis which would you be testing to answer that question. The hypothesis is a statement which connects a topic to a probable cause or effect. The research paper will prove whether the hypothesis is an acceptable one or not, through a systematic method of testing, observation and evaluation.
A research paper on archaeology requires that the paper be divided into several sections: each performing its particular function. The paper has to start with an abstract is a paragraph of around 100 to 300 words length, in which you describe in brief, the work you have done in the paper. Every paper needs to start with an abstract so that readers can obtain an idea of what the paper is about and make a decision of reading ahead or not. The abstract provides a very brief introduction, research thesis statement, motivation, results, and conclusion. It may be a good idea to write the abstract after you complete the paper, as it would be easier for you to summarise the paper.
The abstract is followed by the introduction- in which you elaborate in detail on the thesis statement, the context and what you are trying to uncover as a result of your work. It may also your findings and future directions. The introduction may or may not be followed by a literature review.
The next part of the paper would be about how you carried out the experiment, what studies were used, observations, results and discussions. You have to ensure that the study adheres to the requirements for valid studies such as the standards for qualitative and quantitative research studies, depending on the kind of methods you use.
The final part of the paper is the conclusions. This is where, you bring in all the findings of the study and explain it concisely, in terms of what was known in the past and future directions. Your conclusion also demonstrates that there is a definite evidence supporting your findings and is the exit gateway of your paper.
The hypothesis needs to be phrased in the problem statement of the paper, which is presented in the introduction. The introduction of the paper, may require you to explain the motivation of doing the essay, with a background of previous work done.
Image source: By France3470 (Own work) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
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