- Always use the appropriate jargon. It makes you sound knowledgeable and authoritative; this is 50% of the battle won.
- Look at other people's references to find relevant references you can use. References help to make you sound like you did lots of work and reading, and are familiar with previous work done in this field; this is another 20% of the battle won.
- Explain EVERYTHING -- the key words in your objective and research questions, why you chose that theoretical framework, why you chose that sample, why you chose that method of data collection, why you analysed the data in that manner, how you came to the conclusions you did, how your study is relevant or useful. Explanations make you sound like you have a basis for everything you say, which makes your findings and conclusions sound solid; this is yet another 20% of the battle won.
- Be sure your analysis is thorough, and that your findings make sense and are presented logically, in an orderly manner. This is the final 10% of the battle won.
And there you have it; that's the way I approach my papers. (You should remember I'm doing qualitative and not quantitative studies.)
The reason I put the analysis itself at 10% is because if you have great analysis but cannot explain it well, meaning you don't use the appropriate jargon and you don't explain everything properly plus you don't put it in context by having the correct references -- then your analysis will be useless.
I use language like a weapon.
*Found this on a now-defunct blog of mine. First posted on 10 April 2008, when I was knee-deep in coursework for my Masters!