You’ll tackle a lot of homework assignments in the years before you get your final degree. Even after you graduate, you’ll probably sometimes find yourself taking your work home with you over the course of your career. Much of that work will be tough, boring, or annoying — but few sorts of homework compare with the frustration and burden of the research paper.
To those of us who aren’t naturals at research and writing, the research paper is the ultimate drag. It can also be the ultimate drag on our grades, bringing them down and threatening our academic and professional future. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. If we master the research paper, we can get the grades we need without losing our minds. Here’s how to do it.
Taking your time
Yeah, yeah, it’s old advice — start early and don’t procrastinate. But it’s worth reminding ourselves that procrastination is a student’s worst enemy. When we don’t start our work early enough, we run out of time and can’t afford to do a good job. We end up stressed and rushing, and the result isn’t even good!
Fight procrastination by scheduling your time. Actually write down your tasks and break up your schedule into work and play time. Stick to your commitments, achieve school-life balance, and get the work done.
Learning how to research
For some of us, the problem with research papers isn’t just that we take too long to start them. The actual work of researching and writing can be really tough, too.
Writing a great research paper isn’t just about learning everything you need to know about your topic. It’s also about knowing how to learn that stuff. If you don’t know how to go about doing your research, you’ll be at a disadvantage from the start.
Take some time to learn how to research properly in an organized way. Starting with online searches, find the most popular and authoritative works on your subject. Use bibliographies and citations within those works, as well as more specific searches, to find other materials. And keep track of everything carefully so that you know how to cite the facts you’ll use in your paper — you don’t want to end up having to find the right page number in a 1,000-page book as you try to polish your final draft.
Building blocks: grammar, organization, and more
With your research is ready, you’ll start writing your paper. But you won’t get far if you don’t know how to write a convincing and elegant paper.
Many of us are held back in our research papers because we lack the skills that we need to write at an academic level. Our grammar mistakes make our professors and teachers take us less seriously and view our papers more critically. Our lack of organization leads to a messy paper that is full of important facts but is unable to communicate them.
To solve this issues, start with the basics. Get yourself a grammar and style guide. Take grammar courses in apps or turn to your school’s writing center for tips. Outline your essay before you write it, and really think about how to build your argument.
Improving your writing
Fine-tuning your work is one of the hardest parts of mastering the research paper. To really see how you can improve beyond the basics, you’ll need help. Turn to a campus writing center, a trusted professor, or a reputable online essay service. Find the best research paper writing service for you and work with them to edit and perfect your piece. Take a look at how and why edits are made, and try to think about what you’d do differently next time.
If you build on these simple foundations and pay attention to how your essays are improving, you’ll be able to fine-tune your research paper writing skills and finally master even the most obnoxious of all assignments. Good luck!