How to Write an Academic Paper (with Zombies!)

But first, a word from this post’s sponsor:

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because only zombies and bandit-survivors of the nuclear apocalypse have no need for proper grammar.

Don’t be a zombie or a bandit-survivor of the nuclear apocalypse.


A Bouquet of Pencils
PD image via Pixabay

As part of my continuing exploits as a middle-aged college student, I took an English class, which reacquainted me with the writing of academic papers.  They conformed to the same basic structure, one which worked well when destiny later demanded I write a scientific research paper for a biology class.

Now I will share this powerful knowledge with my blog followers.

Yes, both of you.

A basic academic paper has three parts:

1.  An Introduction

No, not the kind of introduction where you’re like, “Hi, my name is Hercules and I’m a legendary hero.  It’s a pleasure for you to meet me.”

Instead, the introduction lays the groundwork for the paper.  It might include an amusing anecdote, an attention grabber, important background information, or other wondrous and informative possibilities.

One thing the introduction MUST include is a thesis statement, which outlines the paper’s main points and indicates the overall stance the author will take.

2.  A Body

No, not the kind of body that could turn into a zombie when you’re not looking.

The body of an academic paper presents the main points, with supporting arguments and explanations to back them up.  If writing a research paper, it should contain properly-cited quotations plundered from an authorized repository of human knowledge, such as a library or the internet.

Writing a Paper

The Hands of a Writer at Work
PD image via Pixabay

3.  A Conclusion

No, not the kind of conclusion that ends with a cliffhanger, like when a galactic bounty hunter escapes with a scruffy-looking nerf herder frozen in carbonite, and the teacher has to wait three years to find out what happens next.

In a proper conclusion, the writer generally repeats the thesis and main points, but using different words to create the illusion of exciting new content.  The best papers often end with an insightful piece of wisdom, promising calamity if humankind ignores the grim warning contained within.

*     *     *

Now for an example…

The Friendship of the Dead

Since George A. Romero’s classic film, Night of the Living Dead, appeared in 1968, zombies have shambled and devoured their way into popularity.  Today, one cannot throw a stick in a random direction inside a bookstore without toppling a pyramid of zombie novels, and zombie movies continue to spread through theaters, much like the contagions they depict.  Cities across the nation host regular “zombie walks,” festive gatherings where participants dress as their favorite zombies for entertainment and charitable purposes.  Despite their iconic status, zombies lack personal hygiene as well as social grace, ensuring they make terrible friends for the living.

Zombies ignore their grooming needs.  When the living start their day, they put on clean clothes, brush their teeth, and comb their hair.  Zombies do none of these things, no matter how many days, weeks, or months shuffle past them.  Their lack of personal maintenance often results in unfortunate skin conditions requiring an ointment, yet even then, they cannot trouble themselves with a minimum level of care.  As a result, zombies fail to look their best when taking them out to dinner for the evening.

Once at the restaurant, zombies reveal their astounding lack of manners.  If they do not bite the server, they use the wrong fork with their entree, assuming they bother with silverware at all.  Zombies often eat with their fingers, despite how poorly this works with soup and pie, while their hampered social acuity blinds them to the scandalized stares they draw from the restaurant’s other customers.  They spurn the after-dinner mint no matter how much they might need one, and they never offer to pick up the check, nor do they chip in for gas on the way home after yet another dining fiasco.

Though zombies find many fans among the living, their failure to pursue effective beauty regimens, along with their insufficient social skills, make them poor choices for meaningful friendship.  Their popularity endures despite these shortcomings, but what of the danger in continuing to hold them in such high regard?  The next time the living attend a zombie walk, they might fail to tell the difference between real zombies and themselves and not even realize their mistake until their dinner guests stick them with the check at the restaurant, leaving them without enough gas money to get home.  What fate for the living then?


I Like This Picture of a Chef
PD image via Pixabay

*     *     *

Do zombies really make terrible friends?  Could they be merely misunderstood, like some shambling horde of 21st-century Casper the Friendly Ghosts?  Or is it Caspers the Friendly Ghost?  Caspers the Friendly Ghosts?  Oh, I give up…

23 thoughts on “How to Write an Academic Paper (with Zombies!)

  1. Liv Rancourt

    Now, you know I have a high tolerance for the paranormal, but zombies absolutely ick me out. Ick.
    I realize zombies are as hot as vampires used to be, but I avoid them as much as possible.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Yeah, I don’t quite get their popularity, as they’re not the most aesthetically pleasing individuals. They must be a metaphor that somehow resonates with a lot of people.

  2. Kirsten

    Nicely done!
    I’m wondering if you noticed the little speck of blood on the thumbnail of your Hands of the Writer picture? Could it be that your writer is turning into a zombie before your very eyes?

    It is good that I’m now armed with the knowledge that Zombies really are terrible friends. They’re everywhere!

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I did notice the blemish on the left hand. I wanted to somehow make use of it, but I couldn’t really think of anything.

      And yeah…I bet leprechauns are much better to have as friends 🙂

  3. Kim Griffin

    If you can get past the hygiene and the God awful manners and the fact that you likely wouldn’t understand a word they were trying to say, which would make conversations painfully one-sided, the point at which the zombies would stop being welcome would have to be when they couldn’t resist the temptation anymore and come after your brain for a snack. That’s where I draw the line 😉

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      Oh, I know. Isn’t that brain-biting thing they do kinda annoying? You’re all like, “Hi, zombie…how are you today?” And they’re like, “Brains!” And then they try to bite you. It’s totally off-putting 😉

  4. Ellen Gregory

    It just goes to show one can insert zombies into just about anything! (I guess Pride and Prejudice and Zombies taught us that.) Have you identified an appropriate journal for your academic paper on being friends with zombies?

  5. Janice Heck

    I love Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series (Death Warmed Over, Hair Raising, …) Lots of other strange (supernatural creatures) in his books. Lots of good laughs as well as clever writing. I have started a post on Zombie grammar…somewhere in my archives. I’ll have to dig it out and finish it. I’ll link to your post.

    1. Mike Schulenberg Post author

      I might have to check those books out sometime; they sound pretty fun. There’s also a book out called “Pay Me In Flesh” that’s about a zombie lawyer that’s supposed to be pretty good.

      Your zombie grammar post intrigues me. I’d like to read it whenever it’s ready 🙂

  6. Elizabeth Fais

    Ha! A fresh(ly dead) spin on writing academic papers. Fun. The movie Warm Bodies showed a gentler, kinder side to at least one zombie. Resident Evil zombies icked me out, but a story that puts the zombie trope on it’s ear can be fun.

    I’d like to read Janice’s post on zombie grammar too!

  7. Rhonda Hopkins

    Loved that paper! Zombies take up a good deal of my time. Between reading about them and watching movies and of course The Walking Dead (can’t wait until it’s back!) I don’t have a lot of time for other things. But I think it’s important that we embrace and learn about other peoples and cultures. 🙂


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