You’re starting the new semester and BAM! A wave of projects hits you. We all understand how writing research papers can be daunting and tiring, but instead of working hard you should work smart too. Here are 6 steps to make your research writing experience a little better.
- Keeping Your Time in Check
Alan Lakein once said, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”, and as these words imply, preparation is essential before starting any major project. Before tackling your paper head on, take some time and draft out your timeline. Set tasks for each day so you have something to expect and complete daily. Splitting up tasks into bite sizes makes things easier to manage but don’t make your task list too vague or you’ll feel they’re too heavy and end up succumbing to procrastination.
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- Selecting Your Topic and Making your Thesis
Choosing a topic that piques your interest is important in writing a good paper as your attitude is reflected from the paper and unto your readers. Try your best to make your topic simple and specific enough to make the research process easier. Avoid choosing broad or vague topics, as you’ll soon find it being overwhelming and long-winded.
Never forget to check in with your professor from time to time to confirm if your ideas are viable. Also, always do some preliminary research to make sure you have enough information to work on the topic.
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- Sourcing the information
While sourcing your research materials, make sure that the information is from a reliable or credible source such as books, journals and published articles. Be wary of articles from the Internet, as not everything is what it seems. Remember to do cross-referencing and ensure your information is valid and widely accepted by the professional community. Make sure that your reference format is correct as per the request of your instructor (Harvard, APA, MLA and etc.).
Try practice skimming while researching to pinpoint the focal points of an article without tiring yourself by reading each word present. Understanding different perspectives can also add diversity to your paper and provide a more in-depth comprehension of the topic.
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- Writing an outline
After gathering your research materials, outlining is the next step to work on. Outlining is basically the process of organising information. It provides a foundation and structure to your paper, so brainstorm which materials best compliment each other and rearrange them based on relevance. Segment your outlines using subheadings to give yourself a clearer picture of the main and supporting points. Always resist the urge to include information that serves no purpose on your paper no matter how interesting it may seem. An outline usually has an introduction, body and conclusion. But always check whether there are extra components requested by your instructor.
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- Preparing drafts
After completing the outline, it is time to whip out the thinking cap and start writing your drafts. Drafts serve as the “prototype” for your paper, in reference to your outline. You’re basically giving life to your paper, adding details and statements that further your idea of the paper. Don’t be a perfectionist when you’re just starting to write. There is always time to craft the perfect title or use the perfect vocabularies, but the main focus of your draft is to write down your ideas.
Try your best not to constantly refer to research materials while writing as you put yourself at the risk of committing plagiarism. Trust your memory and pen down your own ideas based on your research. If you think you are missing some parts, it’s always okay to do more research. But if you’re worried about committing plagiarism, tools such as PlagScan are your best friends in times like these.
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- Review, edit, repeat
Congratulations, you are done with your drafts! But, before that, check if there are any errors on your paper. Make use of tools such as Grammarly to check for spelling, grammatical errors, and punctuation. You could also use anti-plagiarism software to make sure that all your sources have been correctly cited. Organise your source and reference pages and ensure the correct formatting style is used. A citation generator like Mendeley would also come in handy while writing references. Be sure that you have fulfilled all the criteria needed for the paper before submission.
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Writing an academic paper is not really hard. With the right tools and strategies, you can definitely produce your award-winning papers. Remember to follow these steps and your research paper will surely be the cream of the crop.
Good luck and all the best!