3 Research Habits That Will Save You Time

1.Read the abstract first.

If you are looking for scholarly articles on a topic, don’t read the articles until you’ve looked over the abstract and made sure that this article fits in with your intended subtopics.  Don’t fall into the trap of using any article as a resource just because it vaguely relates to your topic.  You will waste time that could be better spent reading the right articles.

2. Type quotes as you go.

If you find a quote that you think you can use in your paper, type it into your outline under the appropriate subtopic. Make sure to note the author and page number.  By the time you get to the writing stage of your paper, you will already have relevant quotes ready to go.  You won’t have to waste time going back and finding them. This will also help you solidify your thesis statement.

3. Site your sources as you find them.

I remember getting to the end of papers in high school and having to go back through all of my sources and create a works cited page.  By that point, I was so done with my paper that it felt tortuous to do this last step.  Don’t make it your last step – do this as you go.  Whenever you realize you will use a certain source in your paper, immedia

tely add it to your works cited page.  That way, when you are done writing and revising your paper, you won’t have to worry about it.

For extensive guides on citing in APA and MLA styles, follow the links below:

Purdue OWL APA

Purdue OWL MLA

What Can Your Research Paper Do For You?

The Top Ten Benefits You Get From Writing a Research Paper:

1. You get to choose a topic and learn about that topic.

2. Writing research papers can help you figure out your true interests and know which direction to move in your education and in your life.

3. The more you write, the better you get at writing, and knowing how to express yourself well is always a good thing.

4. This is your opportunity to show your professor how much you have learned in class.

5. You can show off your amazing new knowledge on dates or to your friends.

6. Once you are out of school, learning about new things can go from being a requirement to a hobby, so enjoy it while you can.

7. As you move toward writing a thesis, your brain makes new connections, therefore making you just a tiny bit smarter.

8. You never know when your writing or new knowledge will help you in other classes, or in future jobs.

9. A great research paper can really boost your grade, and, unlike on exams, you are in control of the quality of your work.

10. They are a great excuse to put off unpleasant tasks, like cleaning your room.

Paper Procrastination

We’ve all experienced it: On the first day of class, we notice a paper assignment  on the syllabus.  It isn’t due for a month, so we ignore the assignment for a few weeks.  Then the professor starts talking about the paper in class, reminding us to do it.  We promise ourselves we’ll sit down and work on it over the weekend, but then friends invite us out to lunch, or to play Frisbee in the park, and we push it back further.

Finally, it is a week away from the due date, and we have to sit down and start writing.  But then anxiety about starting the paper shows up. The strong among us push through it, choose a topic, outline the paper, and just start writing.  But others of us push the paper off even more, waiting until the night before the paper is due to sit down and get it done.  By then, it’s too  late to do a great job, or to learn much from writing the paper.  An assignment that could have taught us something ends up being a stressful, nerve-wracking experience.

Why do people procrastinate on papers?

1. They don’t know where to begin a complex project like writing a paper, so they don’t begin at all.

2. Paper writing is often seen as an unpleasant task, so many students choose to do other things until they absolutely have to start writing their papers.

3. Many people lack motivation – they don’t see the inherent reason for writing the paper, other than being told to do so, so they avoid writing it.

4. Paper writing requires discipline, and it can be difficult to stay on task when distractions creep up.

Everyone procrastinates, but doing so causes students to perform poorly on papers, lose sleep, and stress out. What are some strategies for pushing through the procrastination to increase our success?

1. As soon as you get an assignment, read it thoroughly.  Figure out how long it will take you to finish the paper from start to finish, and schedule some times on your calendar for planning, writing and editing.  Make sure to write down the time of day you will sit down and work on your paper.  Studies have shown that people who write down a specific time to accomplish tasks are much more likely to do them.

2. Find a place to write where you will enjoy it and not be distracted.  Personally, I love going to coffee shops to work on papers.  Drinking a frothy latte and sinking into a comfy chair helps me enjoy the process, and there aren’t as many distractions as there are at home.  I actually like the noise.  However, you may need to go to a quiet place, like the library.  Figure out what works for you.

3. Use this website and others like it to become more familiar with the steps of writing a great paper.  When you are more familiar with the process, you won’t be as intimidated to begin writing your paper.  Then, break down the process into manageable tasks.  Decide to choose your topic and do some initial research one day, prepare an outline another day, and so on.  Don’t try to tackle your entire paper at once.

4. To increase your motivation, choose a topic that is meaningful for you.  What do you want to learn more about?  Don’t think about the paper as something you need to get done for your professor, rather, see it as a learning opportunity for yourself.  Writing papers is one of the great opportunities in college to learn about something you’re curious about.  View it as a great excuse to spend time investigating an interesting topic.

5. Ask a friend from your class to write with you.  Or hire a tutor to sit down with you and guide you through the writing process. Just as I am much more likely to go jogging with a partner, you are more likely to sit down and work if you have someone to write with you.

Are you a procrastinator?  Why do you think you do it?  Do you have any additional tips on how to stop procrastinating? Share them in the comments section.


Change a few words in your paper and sound more like an academic expert

I was recently helping a client revise his master’s thesis paper, and I realized that many of the changes we made involved replacing basic words with more academic vocabulary. Just by changing a few words, you can dramatically improve your paper. Below, find an incomplete list of words with their more academic-sounding counterparts.

better – more effective
said – noted, explained, stated, indicated, acknowledged
shows – indicates, demonstrates, identifies, displays
use – utilize
part – component
before – previously
try – attempt
way – method
gives – provides

Do you have any more examples? Feel free to include them in the comments section below.

5 Secrets to Getting a Great Grade on Your Paper

1. Know your professor.

Your professor assigned this paper because he or she wants to know something about you as a learner.  Look over your syllabus.  What are the main objectives for your course? Talk to your professor.  Ask her what she is looking for in your paper.  The best way of acing a paper is giving your audience – in this case, your professor – what she wants.

2. Read the assignment thoroughly.

Many students look over writing assignments for paper length and font size, but don’t take the time to notice the content requirements.  Make sure to read your assignment a few times so that you know exactly what you need to do.  This will help you determine what your professor wants, get some ideas about your topic, and also figure out the amount of time you need to get the paper done.

3. Choose a focused topic.

Make sure that the topic you choose is specific and that your thesis statement is concise.  Many students think choosing that a broader topic will make it easier to find lots of things to write about. However, the broader your topic, the more difficulty you will have in narrowing down your subtopics and making a clear, concise thesis statement.  For example, if you are in a U.S. History course, instead of writing about the 1960s, write about political music in the 1960s.  Better yet, write about the Bob Dylan and how he influenced the politics of the time.

4. Organize your ideas first.

Once you have a focused topic, do a little research and come up with a few subtopics.  Then break those down into smaller subtopics.  Create an outline for yourself before you begin writing.  This will help you stay on track with your writing, and will reduce the time you need to spend later on editing and revising your paper.

5. Give yourself enough time.

This is probably the most important thing you can do to get a good grade on your paper!  As soon as you know how long your paper needs to be, calculate the amount of time it will take you to complete each step of the paper writing process.  Don’t forget to factor in time to try out a few different topics, research, create an outline, find great quotes, edit and revise, and do citations.  Schedule paper writing time into your calendar.  The more time you give yourself, the less stressed you will be, and the more likely you are to ace your paper!