You have a paper to write. It doesnít matter how many
pages it is or what the topic is, the basics are always
Understand the assignment.
This might seem obvious but instructors routinely
receive carefully researched, well written papers that
are off topic. Take the time to carefully read over
the requirements and if you have any questions or
doubts consult with your instructor after class or by
e-mail for clarification. Read our
guide to directives and terms to insure that you
answer the question in the format required.
out your time line.
Make sure you make the time to do a quality job.
a topic wisely.
If you have some latitude choose something that
Otherwise, you may have trouble sticking to the task.
Also, keep your topic broad enough to find enough
resources to cover the topic of your paper, but narrow
enough that you can develop and successfully support
your thesis. Donít be afraid to consult with your
fellow students for ideas.
a Quality Thesis Statement.
research papers must contain a thesis statement. These
statements suggest a paper's main topic and imply the
order in which the ideas appear. Keep in mind that
your thesis may change after you've done a little
research. This is OK, so long as your paper supports
your final thesis statement.
Excellent Secondary Resources.
not to rely heavily on one source. You need to consult
varying opinions and information about the subject to
provide a well-thought-out argument on the topic,
especially if your paper is persuasive. Be prepared to
address arguments from the opposing side. If you
belong to an online subscription service like
Questia search for
essays on your topic, read them and cite them as
Outline Your Paper.
Organize your thoughts and the points you want to make
in a logical sequence before you begin the essay.
a rough draft.
Never think that your first effort is suitable. Wait a
day or so and reread your paper critically. Show your
draft to your roommates, friends, TAís and your
instructor if possible. Take criticism humbly and make
the changes that you deem fit. The finished result
gets the grade. The rough draft ends up in the trash.
for punctuation and spelling errors.
Remember that spell check does not pick up
misspellings that are actually other words!
If you're stuck for a topic or if your essay just
plain isn't going well, the best resource for
getting back on track is your instructor. You will be
graded on the end product, not on how you got there so
don't be shy about sharing your confusion. He or she
is there to help. Don't approach your instructor at
the last moment. That would be counter productive. Do
be prepared to discuss your problems and the material
calmly and logically. Just because you're frustrated
doesn't mean that you have to act frustrated. Do bring
your notes and rough draft to show your progress up to
Professional looking papers are more likely to be
treated positively than sloppily appearing ones. Use
bright clean paper. Use an easy to read font like
Times New Roman, not an internet font like Arial. Use
bold text for subject headers. Number each page.
Plagiarizing is not just unethical. It's risky and
ultimately unproductive. The consequences of being
caught include failing the class and possible
expulsion. It's just not worth it. Besides, you
entered college to get an education. Doing the work is
part of the educational process
Also see our guide to
writing a thesis statement
directives and terms used in
writing and test taking.