Things for the Ss in your group:
1. SITUATE YOURSELF
; When is your paper due? Mark the due date for the draft and the
final version on your calendar.
; Carefully reread the assignment. Make a list of the key terms
which help identify what you need to do.
; Think about what topics interest you that meet the criteria for
the assignment? Why do these topics interest you?
; Use an approach suited to your learning style - For example, list
ideas; make an outline; draw a circle - insert your main idea and
then draw smaller circles named with possible subtropics; draw
a tree with branches simulating sub topics; free write ideas
without censoring them in your head.
; What do you hope to learn from researching any of these
; Who will be your audience? What will your audience get out of
learning more about this topic?
3. DO RESEARCH [You can't write a good research paper
without good sources.]
; Ask a librarian for help in finding materials. The university
library will have more scholarly material than a public library. ; Specialized encyclopedias (dealing with specific disciplines) are
good sources to help you find topics. Familiarize yourself with
the search strategies of the databases you are using to find
; What key words/phrases will you use to find your information? ; What databases - (online, CD ROM, library resident) would be
appropriate for finding resources?
; Be discriminating in your selection of sources. It is generally
best not to just rely on Web resources for a research
paper. Most scholarly sources are not yet on the Web or are
only available to paid members of scholarly
organizations. Much information on the Internet is not
reliable. Of course, a lot of information in print is also not
credible. Be a discerning researcher. Review these guidelines
for evaluating sources. Here are some guidelines for
evaluating Web resources. If your sources are not credible,
your paper will not be credible.
; Can you find enough information, given the kinds of resources
you are expected to use?
; Is your level of understanding of the subject sufficient to
understand and interpret the sources?
; Are the sources credible? Look at authority/credentials of
author/s, connection to subject, credibility of publication,
; Are the sources current? Out of date information is particularly
troublesome in rapidly changing fields like science and
; Are they sufficiently scholarly, written by experts in the field
about which you are writing?
; Do you have access to them?
4. ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS
; Review the information you have gathered on the subject for
variety, appropriateness, depth of coverage.
Make copies of the source material. Take notes (Use a 3x5 card
for each source and/or keep computer records.) on each
source. Cards are good to help you sort out the placement of
the material in your paper. Include all key information, such as:
author/s' names, title of journal/ book, title of article/ chapter,
page numbers, date of article, Web address, database you used
to find the source, key term/s used to find the
source, pertinent information (Note whether or not you are
quoting or paraphrasing the pertinent information.). These
records can help you find the material again if you lose the
original source. You will need the info. for your
bibliography/reference page and also show your teacher if
she/he requests to see your sources.)
; Read and take notes on your sources.
; Put similar ideas together. Is there a pattern? Can you find a
central theme? (If not, perhaps your sources cover too broad a
; Make an outline (Be willing to change the outline if , after
reading writing a first draft you can see your pattern is
changing. The outline is a road map. If you go in another
direction, change the map. But be sure your new direction is a
; Write a preliminary thesis statement. (Your thesis statement
is generally one or two sentences which state your central
points . It is NOT your approach to writing the paper. It
is NOT a question. It is more likely the answer to the main
questions you are seeking answers to in your research.) In
your research paper, the thesis is generally positioned at the
end of the introductory material, which sets up your
subject. Be willing to revamp your thesis as your
understanding of the issues increases and your main point gets
5. START WRITING
; Begin where you feel comfortable. If you are stuck on the intro,
begin in the middle! The point is to get those ideas out. You
can reorganize later. Be willing to throw out some of your
preliminary writing. This writing is often a bridge to where you
want to go and once you get there you may not need the
preliminary writing anymore.
; Don't correct grammar, punctuation, spelling at this
time. Censoring yourself will interfere with the creative juices.
6. STEP BACK AND REVIEW WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN
; After you have a fair amount, read out loud what you have
written. Record yourself reading your text and play it back. ; Don't do fine-tuning or editing at this point; you are still in the
; What is working and what needs clarification?
; Ask someone else to read what you have written, preferably
someone familiar with the assignment. If you are a member of
a peer response group, they should be your primary
; Do you stick to your focus? Are your points substantive? Do
your sources adequately support your points?
7. REVISE AND CHECK YOUR PAPER FOR THESE PRINCIPLES
OF GOOD WRITING
; Reexamine your thesis. Do the central topic and sub topics
relate to your thesis?
; Do you use the sources to support points you make in your own
words, or are you just regurgitating information from sources
and letting them speak FOR you? Paraphrase when possible to
show you understand and can interpret the material
accurately. Paraphrasing means to accurately restate the
points in your own words.
; What parts need more detail, evidence? (Cite all sources,
whether quoted or paraphrased.)
; What parts need reorganization, sharper focus?
; What sections need clearer transitions between ideas? ; Does the introduction adequately set up the subject and thesis?
(The thesis is generally at the end of the introductory
; Are the paragraphs cohesive? Your paragraphs should focus
on particular aspects of the main topic.
; Does the conclusion tie in with the thesis? If the thesis and
conclusion don't match, chances are in writing your paper your
views on the subject changed. You may need to change your
thesis/ rethink your position.
; Are sentences grammatically correct?
; Are your sentences varied in length and structure and
emphasize main points?
; Do your sentences express ideas clearly and concisely? Are
they punctuated correctly?
; Are your words concrete and appropriate for the subject and
audience? Using "big words" to impress readers often
backfires. Keep it simple is generally a good rule. ; Does your paper follow the exact format required? APA? MLA?
or another form?
; IS YOUR PAPER INTERESTING?
; Did you get someone else to respond to questions you have
about your paper? A second opinion can be helpful.
8. REVIEW AND REFINE FORMAT
; Review the required research style guidelines.
; Be sure quotes and paraphrases are properly cited (in the form
required) in the text of your paper.
; Be sure your reference/bibliography page is properly
documented (MLA?, APA? another form?). Research styles
have rigid formats. Don't mix and match styles.
; Be sure that each source used in your paper is also listed in the
appropriate form in your reference/bibliography page. ; Review the style guide for proper cover page, page numbering
; Get a final reading from someone else.