Wednesday, December 07, 2011

MB distractions

Here I sit. Snuggled in bed with my macbook. Listening to Michael Buble. Wanting his new Christmas album. Trying to write my research paper. And procrastinating.

Why is it so hard to just focus and write papers? It seems this is a very common issue. I even enjoy writing papers! If I could write a 10-20 page paper in lieu of taking a test I would in a heartbeat. I think I am gifted at sifting through research, compiling it in an organized manner, and forming cohesive and easily understood thoughts based on the research. Besides time spent away from the actual paper... it doesn't take me long to write. I've mentioned this before, but for all of you out there who need tips on writing a research paper here is my quick and simple format I use for every paper. In my entire undergraduate and graduate career I have yet to score less than 98% on a research paper.

Step one: find journal articles and read them thoroughly. I usually only read my articles one time. I highlight as I go and only highlight what I will actually use in the paper.

Step two: Create an outline. I format the title page, abstract page, and reference page. Easy peasy. Make sure you have the updated APA guide (or whatever format you need for your area of study) in case there have been changes since you last checked.

Step three: Choose at least three main areas of interest for your paper. I generally make the outline with Introduction, 3-5 areas or interest, conclusion. Depending on the length of the paper and the subject I may make subheadings as well.

Step four: Go through every single article and add quotes or ideas (make sure you use quote marks in word for word quotes so you don't forget later) to the appropriate area of interest. Don't forget to cite the quotes or ideas in the outline format. (literally this is in a bulleted format) I generally don't add the actual citation. I number my sources in alphabetical order and the outline citation is similar to this: (1, p. 100). That way when I add it to the paper I can go back and add names and dates as needed. This is useful since you don't always list all the authors in the citations (ex. et al.).

Step five: Build paragraphs around your outline. Go through and write your paragraphs incorporating the citations and quotations as needed. I try to organize my citations in the order I want to use them to make this process easier. Hint: don't use all your quotes from source 1 and then source 2 and then source 3 etc etc throughout the paper. Mix them up!

Step six: Go through the paper and add in the authors and dates of your sources as needed. Make sure to triple check this so you don't miss one!

Step seven: Proof read your paper.

Step eight: Proof read your paper. I generally print out a copy to proof read since things seem to pop out on paper that don't on a computer screen.

Step nine: Double check formatting, margins, all that technical stuff that is needless points missed.

Step ten: Turn it in and forget about it!

That worked out well. Ten nice and easy steps. I would say that from choosing my topic to turning my paper in I generally spend a good 10 hours on a paper. It usually takes me about 5 hours to write the stinking paper... depending on how long it is. I would say 2-3 hours to read my sources, depending on how many are needed. And then the remaining 2 hours can be spent searching for articles and proof reading. Not that bad.

Alrighty. Well, Michael Buble is making me sleepy. But I need to get at least half of this paper written so I can try to finish it tomorrow. That leaves Friday to proof read it and turn it in before we head to Michigan on Saturday! The outline is done, so that's the hard part.

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