You may have been researching and brainstorming for weeks, but sometimes polishing your paper up with the final details can be exhausting and it’s tempting to rush through them for the sake of getting the paper done. Try these hints for tying your final research paper up neatly.
As this is your final research paper of the semester and likely your final grade, it’s important not to give up on it until you’re truly proud of your work. Finals week is generally the most strenuous time in your college career, and the weeks leading up to it may have you stressed out already.
Now that you’ve completed all your research, it’s time to make sure all your logic and writing is as it should be. An article by Kathy Livingston called Guide to Writing a Basic Essay suggests it may be time to rearrange some things if you’re not confident with the flow of your paper. “Look at your paragraphs. Which one is the strongest? You might want to start with the strongest paragraph, end with the second strongest, and put the weakest in the middle. Whatever order you decide on, be sure it makes sense. If your paper is describing a process, you will probably need to stick to the order in which the steps must be completed.” Keep writing and backing up your claims until you’ve removed all doubt from your argument.
An article called Panic Paper explains that it is best to do your proofreading after a good night of rest. “Go to sleep! When you wake up in the morning, proofread your work. You will be refreshed and better able to spot typos and awkward transitions.” If it is possible for your turn-in schedule, don’t do all your final editing at the end of a long night of writing and researching. Give your poor eyes a break until morning. You’ll be far less likely to let those small errors slip by you.
Livingston goes on to give example of some finishing touches you should consider after you finish writing your research paper this semester. She suggests asking yourself the following questions as you’re deciding whether or not your paper is polished enough to hand in:
- Does it make logical sense?
- Have you run a spell checker or a grammar checker? These aids cannot catch every error, but they might catch errors that you have missed.
- Do the sentences flow smoothly from one another?
If you come up with the answer “no” for any of these, consider revising slightly. Make sure your sentences and paragraphs make sense in the order they are presented in your research paper. If they don’t, insert additional content or transition words so your reader is not confused by your thought process along the way. Author of A Rose for Emily, M. Thomas Inge, suggests that students “provide a lead-in for all quotations. Failure to do so results in a serious breakdown in coherence. The lead-in should at least name the person who is being quoted. The ideal lead-in, however, is one that not only names the person but indicates the pertinence of the quotation.”
As you’re reading over your research paper, you’ll want to look out for common spelling errors. As Kathy Livingston mentioned, spell checking tools don’t always work because they often can’t tell when you’ve simply used the wrong form of a word such as “their” vs. “they’re.” Here is a helpful list called The Most Common Spelling Errors in College with words that students tend to struggle with.
Sometimes after you’ve spent so many pain-staking hours adding your own finishing touches to your research papers, you may lose perspective on it. Getting a friend or classmate to peer-review your paper may be just what you need to feel confident about turning it in to your professor. Not only can they check for errors or misspellings, but they can also give you feed back on the overall thesis of your research paper.
In a helpful book called Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It, authors Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen say, “If you feel unsure of yourself, of the validity of your own ideas, or even of creating ideas of your own, then you may feel that you can’t act without looking to other people for help–not simply in terms of feedback or brainstorming, but help that will provide a viewpoint or a structure that you can adopt as your own.”
Burka and Yuen go on to explain that “Many college students […] devote weeks to gathering research for a term paper, but never actually write it because they have to sort through so many contradictory opinions to offer a perspective of their own.” Simply gaining the overall approval from a peer can greatly reduce the anxiety that may accompany an important project.
Remember to keep trying until you’re completely happy with your final research paper. Even though you may be frustrated with your paper by now or exhausted from the last weeks of school, you’ll regret it on turn-in day if you didn’t try your hardest. Get this final project done right with these research paper hints so you can enjoy your holiday!