Classes are starting and it has been a while, hasn’t it? You’re now busy getting back into the swing of things, but while you’ve been away, you may have forgotten some vital information about how to write a research paper. There may also be some key components of writing papers with which you’ve always struggled. Here are some back to school tips to keep in mind while starting your first research paper this school year to help create your best work.
The best way to write a great research paper is to choose a topic in which you’re genuinely interested. Many professors allow you to choose your own topic, and if not, you can generally choose your own direction to take it. Often, students will choose a topic that seems easy as opposed to one they find interesting. Unfortunately, you’ll find that you quickly run out of steam researching those “easy” topics. Choose something you’re truly passionate about, narrow it down from a broad idea, and get to researching! Check out these ideas on where to look when brainstorming research topics from the post, “How to Find Research Paper Topics from Everyday Life,” from the Smart Students Conference blog. Or head straight to Questia.com to look at our research topics page backed with millions of sources.
This massive paper may seem daunting when it is first assigned but this is your chance to get a head start on things and establish goals. Pace yourself and allow time to do your paper justice. Outlines are a great way to stay organized. A good place to start for help on your research paper outline format is collegeessaytips.org. A 15 page paper spread out over a few weeks is no sweat if you set realistic goals and timeframes for yourself. (Planning to leave everything for the last minute is not a plan; you’ll hate yourself for it later.)
Put honesty first.
While developing your research paper, try not to forget that the more tech-savvy you become, the more experienced your professors get, too. They’ve seen it all by now, so don’t try to outsmart them by taking short-cuts and not doing honest, well-developed research. Choosing credible sources for your research paper is the only way to succeed. Consider submitting your finished paper to writecheck.com, a website that reviews papers for plagiarism, before you hand it in. There are many ways for professors to check whether or not your work is your own and the consequences could involve you failing the assignment, the class, or in extreme cases even being expelled from your university. It’s never worth it.
Double check citations!
With the variety of ever-changing writing styles, it can be hard to get your Works Cited or bibliography page in order. It’s always better to ask your professor for guidance than to fall victim to unconscious plagiarism, which can still get you into trouble if you’re not careful. According to the article “The Effects of Repeated Idea Elaboration on Unconscious Plagiarism,” individuals also have a tendency to repeat information without remembering or giving credit to where they got it from originally. This is why it’s important to keep your sources and notes well-organized. Questia helps you to do both these things with highlighting and notes, source folders, and citation help.
Don’t set yourself up to fail.
In an article called “It Was Just That I Was Afraid,” author Rebecca D. Cox addresses students’ fear of failure and the huge impact this can have on your self-esteem and overall performance. Simply because your professor assigns you what seems to be an impossibly long research paper does not mean that you are doomed to fail. Your professors want you to succeed and are usually quite eager to help. Don’t be afraid to take on something extraordinary just because it may require some hard work.
Staying on top of your research papers always makes life easier. With these five back-to-school research paper tips, you’ll quickly be on your way to stress-free semester with results you’ll be happy with.
University Students’ Perceptions of Plagiarism