I have noticed that some of my most popular blog posts have been the ones on college and sharing tips and tricks with you guys. So here is one that I know you will all love!
1) Start Early. This is crucial to your success. I have two papers due at the end of this semester, both are about 15-20 pages long and both require a certain number of sources. This takes a lot of time. About two weeks ago I started the paper for one of my classes and it took about 3 days to get 3 pages of the rough draft written. Imagine if I procrastinated until the last week of school? This happens all the time, unfortunately and professors don't appreciate that and will dock a lot of points off your grade. Make sure and start early so you can write a complete rough draft and have time to proof read it through at least twice. Once this rough draft is done, turn it into your professors, even if they say you don't have to. Ask for feedback and then start rewriting based on their comments. Starting early will save you loads of time in the end.
2) Use a flash drive. Another very important tip. I organize my folders on my flash drive by classes so when you first open the drive you see the class list and click on the class you want. Then I organize the class into sub folders for research paper, assignments, etc. All articles you come across while browsing for your research topic, you should save the PDF format and put it in the folder you labeled for that class. This helps with future organization and when you sit down to start writing the paper you already have a bunch of sources right at your finger tips.
3) Read the grading rubric. Do this before you begin step two, maybe I should move it around? Anyway, this is a very important step. Your Professor will most likely have a grading rubric on how they want the paper formatted and how they want citations to be cited (basically if you are using MLA or APA format). Periodically, throughout the process of researching and writing your paper, refer back to the rubric to make sure you haven't forgotten anything and that all the points and steps are covered.
4) Write your literature review section first. This helps me the most. I always do my research and write the lit review first, then wait a few days before I start the other sections of my paper. All my professors have required a lit review on the paper at one point in time. This is the section you are getting your thesis idea from. You are stating the background information, pulling in other authors and scientific research that has been conducted on your topic. This section should clearly answer the "So What?" question for your readers.
5) Spend at least an hour a day working on your paper. Whether you have two or three papers due, spend a consecutive hour on your paper each day writing your thoughts out. After I do this I tend to go back and look at what I have written, and re-organize my thoughts to where they would best fit in the paper. Then I revise it all and turn that in as my rough draft. By the time I have actually handed my professor my rough draft, I have read through the paper about 4 times checking for errors, etc. This is just what works for me, but try it, you may be surprised at what you come up with.
6) Have a friend in class proofread the paper for you. I used to have outside sources proofread my paper, however that was ineffective because they didn't know what to look for. If you can find someone in class who will take the time to proofread your paper, you will be much better off. This person knows what your professor is grading the assignment on. You might offer to trade papers and both be benefited by this exercise.
7) Take breaks. I take a lot of breaks while I am studying, it just helps me focus, and internalize what I have just written. It also helps to look back at my work and see what needs to be changed right off the bat.
8) REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. You can never edit your paper too much. From my experience I have gotten the best grades on papers when I revise the paper at least 5 times before turning in the final copy. I know that feels like a lot, but what if it made the difference between a B+ and an A paper? I have had this happen to me and I am so glad I followed through and did revise as much as I could.
Well there you have it. Some of my best tips for success in writing your paper. I might do a part 2 later, as there is just so much that goes into writing. What tips do you have for those writing final research papers?