How to Write a Quality Paper in Half the Time
Ah college, hallowed halls, illustrious awards, and the smell of coffee and students’ brains steaming as they do research. Nothing quite like it. If you are anything like me, you dread the moment of looking at the syllabus and seeing “final paper” listed at the bottom. But never fear! The following tips will save you a ton of time on the research paper process so you can get back to researching newly released video games and, oh yeah, sleeping.
Identify what the assignment actually about
Narrow it down to a few key points you need to address. Ask your professor for clarification. Copy and paste the instructions and rubric if you need to.
Take the most time selecting sources
Finding sources is a drag, I know, but it’s the backbone of your paper so be meticulous with reading what your sources are actually saying. I know the website is taboo in academia, but Wikipedia is a good place to get a start. DO NOT use Wikipedia as a source but use it to get an idea of what kind of content is out there on your topic. Follow links down rabbit holes to find the real sources you want. This saves you a lot of time. Realize that researchers often put relevant work in their references, too.
Outlines are your very best friend
Group similar sources together and create a short summary of what each source is saying. Not only does this give you a good overview, but also, it lets you see how ideas connect and how you want to develop your argument.
Flesh things out, but don’t try to break ground on anything
Start writing and don’t worry about edits right away. Remember that most times you’re trying to make a point, not create an entirely new theory. Pick an argument and stick with it through the whole paper. Follow the rubric carefully to make sure you’re hitting requirements.
Edit, edit, citation machine, and edit again
Once you have a fairly-established paper you need to go through and check for grammar and spelling errors. Read your paper aloud to yourself or drag a willing friend into reading it over for you. If you use a citation machine to create references, go through each reference and triple check that nothing was modified or added.
Give yourself time
The biggest mistake you can make with a research paper is waiting until the day before to complete it. Give yourself time to write the paper and reach out to the professor with questions. Here at UNO we have a multitude of sources to help you with research papers. Visit the Writing Center. Learn about library research databases.
Happy writing and don’t forget your name!