Research for a Shortened Semester: Write a Draft Now (No Matter How Bad It Is)

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”―Jodi Picoult

We’re down to the wire, my friends. Summer term is almost over. If you have a research paper soon due, it is past time to have started. But since we can’t go back in a time machine, let’s review what has to be done at this point:

  1. Choose a thesis.
  2. Write a basic outline.
  3. Write a rough draft without sources.
  4. Research your topic.

For help on the process, go to one of the Mayfield Library research guides.

However, right now, the key step to paper success is getting a rough draft of your paper done NOW. The more time you have for revising and editing, the better off you’ll be.

When I talk with faculty about student research papers, they say the following are common problems:

  • Plagiarism (the big academic sin)
  • Works cited and citation errors
  • Grammar, spelling, and sentence structure problems
  • Awkward sentences
  • Dropped quotations and sources not discussed

The thing is that many of these errors are caused by waiting to the last minute to get started. And what is often actually turned in is a rough instead of a final draft.

So write that draft now. Start working on revising and editing it. Work on the aspects listed above that cause the most problems.

I promise if you spend time on revisions, you (and your instructor) will be much happier with the final result!






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