This post is obviously not for everyone. If I knew I would never have to write another research paper, I would not bother reading beyond this period. If you, however, are one of the unlucky ones who still must occasionally write research papers, perhaps these tips will help you tame the research paper beast. I’ve discovered these strategies to help me immensely. See what you think:

  1. GET ALL SOURCES. First thing I do is print off all full-text articles online. Then I make copies of all the other journal articles. Then I find and locate all the books and encyclopedia articles and copy the sections of each that I need, including cover pages (this way I don’t have to carry all my books around and can write on the copied pages). I then put all my sources in alphabetical order.
  2. TYPE BIBLIOGRAPHY. Once all my sources are in alphabetical order, I type my bibliography. I like the sense of accomplishment I feel this early in the process. Plus, already having the bibliography done comes in really handy when you start writing your paper.
  3. READ EVERYTHING. Next I familiarize myself with all my materials, reading through my stack of sources, making marks in the page, jotting down selective notes on a legal pad, and constantly thinking about the best way to organize my paper.
  4. REVIEW EVERYTHING. Once I’ve pretty much read through all my material, I flip through all the pages of material again, paying special attention to my marks and highlights. It’s at this point that I write down the source and page number of important info on the appropriate page in my legal pad/ appropriate section of my outline.
  5. WRITE THE PAPER. At this point, the tedious work is done and the writing process is much more enjoyable (as enjoyable as a research paper can be, obviously). Since I have notes on each section of my paper and since my materials are still in alphabetical order, finding the right quote or support for a point is a piece of cake and writing time is dramatically reduced.
  6. PROOF THE PAPER. Once the rough draft is complete, I proof the paper a couple of times and have some trusted friends do the same. I make my final changes, hand in my paper, and sigh a big sigh of relief, having successfully tamed the research paper beast.
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