How to Write a Research Paper in a Day
For college students, especially those who are prone to putting off assignments, the ability to write a long research paper in a day is an important skill. This can especially become significant at the end of the semester, when many students have exams, papers and projects all due within the same two-week period. For those who need to spend a large portion of their day on long papers, it is important to not become burned out because there likely is another in-depth assignment that will need attention the next day or the same week.
It is important for students to know their own writing abilities. They need to have an idea of how long it takes them to write quality pieces and allot time in their day for their papers accordingly. Usually research papers are at least ten pages long, depending on how concise students are, and require scholarly sources in the form of books or journal articles. It often takes at least ten hours, usually between 12 and 16, to type and edit papers that are worthy of being turned in, often more because of the need to locate existing research or additional sources.
Students need to take care of other obligations, such as classes and work, before tackling a paper. It is essential not to fall behind in anything else for one paper, even if the paper is very important in a course. It may be possible to take time off from something to make more for a paper, but students must be ready to work the research paper into their already busy schedules, starting to work on it in the afternoon or evening.
When starting to write a paper, it is important to already have an idea of what the project is about and what the professor's expectations are. Students need to do what they would if they were writing the research paper over a longer period of time, only in less than 24 hours, which means that it is not good for them to start the process without any direction. Before beginning and to avoid back-tracking once they start work on their papers, they should have a clear idea of what their topics are as well as what they are planning to write about. This means that they should have read the directions for their papers, thought about it and done some initial work on them because without this preparation, it would be difficult to proceed.
As with writing any research paper, it is important to have an organizing structure, particularly for papers that are written in one day. While students must follow the guidelines of their professors and disciplines, formatting sources according to styles used, most papers have an introduction, thesis statements that guide what the arguments with be, a body and a conclusion. To answer the main question or hypothesis of the paper, it is important to use existing research, such as articles in scholarly journals, to show that there is validity to the argument. Even when working in a short period of time, it is important to make sure to use quotes and paraphrase when necessary, making sure not to plagiarize.
After research papers have been written, there needs to be time for editing. Most students do not have perfect typing skills, so they need to allot time to look through the piece for grammatical errors and typos as well as bigger problems, such as improper syntax or punctuation. Before starting the editing process, students should take at least a short break because they have spent so much time looking at the computer screen and are likely to miss grammatical issues within their papers after looking at them for so long. If there is time, it is always good to get other people to proofread papers, but when writing pieces in a day, this may not be possible. The editing process is an important part of writing papers because many professors take points off for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Staying up for a whole night is difficult for many students, especially if they have been doing so for more than one night. It is good to make sure to allot time for breaks and even a few hours of sleep because staring at a computer can cause eyestrain. According to an article by Molly Webster in Scientific American, entitled "Sitting Too Close to the Computer Screen Can Make You Go Blind," optometrists, ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals are seeing a connection between near sightedness and close proximity to computer screens for long periods of time. In order to stay up for long periods of time, many students need assistance in the form of coffee or another substance that contains caffeine, which can give them an energy boost and make them more alert. This stimulant affects the central nervous system and has not been found to be dangerous if consumed in small quantities each day, according to the American Heart Association. While drinking one to two cups of coffee a day has not been found to be harmful, large quantities of caffeine can cause a person to experience irritability, insomnia and irregular heart beats.
- It is difficult to find and put together all of the source information after writing a paper, so students should have a system of organizing this information as they are writing the paper. One good way of doing this is to cite the sources as they are used, so it is not necessary to go back later and find them, especially if there is a lack of time to do so. It is always better to not put a paper off until the last minute because it is more productive to edit and revise a paper after a longer period of time away from it, rather than just a few minutes or hours. It is also difficult to do a great deal of research in one night or craft an effective argument, even though it can be done, so it is better to write the paper in pieces if possible. This will also make the project seem less overwhelming.