Now, you’ll probably find most of these at the library or on the internet,but it’s also possible that you’ll find them in the burial room of an ancient temple full of booby traps.
Pro-tip: Most teachers agree that being impaled by hidden floor spikes is not an acceptable excuse for turning your paper in late. Just so you know. A safer place that you might actually want to start with is Wikipedia. Now, some of your teachers are gonna say that Wikipedia isn’t a good source – and they’re right. However, the citations section at the bottom of each and every Wikipedia article is actually a really great place to find good sources, since Wikipedia holds their articles to high standards and requires high-quality source material – like scientific studies published in reputable journals. Aside from Wikipedia, though, you’ll also find lots of good sources through Google Scholar, journal databases like EBSCO, your school library, and – one place you might not have thought of before – the notes or bibliography section in most popular science books. For example, Bill Bryson’s book A Short History of Nearly Everything contains 48 pages of citations and references to other works.
Once you’ve found your sources for your perfect research paper, make personal copies of them – create photocopies if they’re in books or other paper formats, or add them to a note-taking app if they’re digital. This ensures that you’ll always have them available to you when you’re writing without having to go look them up again.
Next, you wanna annotate the material.
Skim each source, highlight the sections that you feel are specifically relevant to the arguments you want to make, and add any notes that might help you hammer out the details of those arguments when you’re actually writing the final draft.
Finally, consciously ask yourself if you’re done.
Cal’s ballpark suggestion here is to have at least two sources for each main point in your thesis, and at least one for any tangential or non-crucial points. Of course, this is a general suggestion, so you’ll have to make the final call. If the answer is no, repeat the process. If the answer is yes, then it’s time to write your research paper first real draft. And this should be an awful first draft. There’s a popular adage that’s often attributed to Ernest Hemingway which goes, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
Now, there are a more than a few things wrong with this quote.
First, Hemingway never said it – it’s actually a pithy re-phrasing of a passage from a novel called Reuben, Reuben by Peter De Vries.
Secondly, Hemingway definitely didn’t write this way – even though he was a guy who definitely drank a lot in his spare time.
However, it’s still a useful piece of advice as long as it isn’t taken literally. What’s it’s actually getting at is the usefulness of letting the initial act of creation be free of scrutiny and restraint. And this is important, because one of the most difficult problems that writers deal with is perfectionism.
And once I acknowledged that fact, the first drafts became so much easier to do.
This same mindset will speed up the completion of your own first draft as well. It’s ok if your first draft is awful, because future you will be there to edit it and shape it into something great.
Thanks, Thought Bubble.
Now, one technique that I’ve found to be helpful during this process is to write my first draft in a different place than where I intend the final draft to go. This might be a separate document, or it might be an entirely different app. For instance, I write the first draft of almost every one of my blog posts and video scripts in Evernote.
Later, I’ll polish them up in Google Drive.
Using a separate app helps me to truly believe that it’s ok to make a mess.
Of course, that mess has to get cleaned up eventually!
Now, I did say a minute ago that cleaning it up is future you’s problem, but eventually future you becomes now you.