If you cringe when you hear the term research paper thrown around by your instructor, you aren’t alone.
Research papers aren’t exactly the most beloved homework item to most Minnesota School of Business students—in fact, they are likely the least beloved.
Lucky for you, Minnesota School of Business-Elk River Campus Librarian and Research Paper Guru, Michael Schneider, has put together 10 tips to make writing a research paper easier.
1. Time management is key—know your due dates and give yourself time for research and review. Good time management is the most important part of the research process. Research papers written at the last minute are recipes for disasters.
2. Take notes—take good notes not only on what you are researching, but take notes on where you are finding the information (you’ll need it for citation purposes later).
3. Pick a good topic from the start—I know that is a “well, duh” notion, but knowing how to pick a good topic is essential when researching and writing. Commonly, students pick a topic so broad that it would take 100+ pages to do the topic justice. Instead, pick a very specific topic—but also ensure there are scholarly sources available on that topic.
4. Ask questions—when questions arise the ideal time to ask is right away (or as soon as possible). Too many students wait until the last minute to ask questions, which many times leaves them without enough time to research properly.
5. Know the online and campus library—once you know where to find information and how to navigate databases and the catalog system, your research time should be very limited. For most people, educating themselves on how to find sources takes the majority of their research time.
6. Cite, cite, and cite—cite any and all of the information that did not originate from you. Plagiarism is a serious offense, but it is easily avoided by properly citing your work. Have your Pocket Guide to APA Style handy when you are writing for a quick reference document. Remember, citing your sources isn’t just putting website links at the bottom of your paper—you need in-text citations to show what information is being cited and what the source of that information is.
7. Know sources for external assistance—the coaching center, student tutors and instructor office hours are marvelous resources that are available to assist you during the writing process. Make sure you are knowledgeable on these resources so that you can take full advantage of them.
8. Review, re-read, and re-write—a large mistake students make is turning in work without reviewing it first. One should always review and re-read their work for mistakes, and re-write if necessary. Utilize the coaching center staff, student tutors, or SmartThinking online for an additional set of eyes on your paper.
9. Don’t overload yourself—the more you have on your plate the less likely it is you will be able to give your best effort toward the assignment. Set up a schedule for research, writing, review, and rewriting and stick to it.
10. Get a good night’s sleep—prior to your last review and turning in your work, get an adequate amount of sleep so that you have a clear mind. The best way to avoid silly mistakes is reviewing your work without the fog of exhaustion getting in the way of mental clarity.