By: Simone Feigenbaum
Like many students, I'm a procrastinator. The thought of having to write a paper often ends up seeming like a Herculean task, so I avoid it until the last minute, and need to do everything at once, which just reinforces my avoidance of it.
What I have found, though, is that breaking the paper up into smaller, easier to digest tasks can greatly ease the process.
This is how I break down projects for a research paper:
Step one: Research
This is my favorite part. Find an aspect of the topic that interests you, and look into it. The library research desk can be a great help with this part. Make sure you keep track of the things you've read and what you've learned from them. It will make the following steps far easier.
Step two: Find a question
Now that you've done some research into your topic, what questions do you have? What did you find most interesting? That's your topic.
Step three: Outlining
When you were in high school, your teachers probably taught you how to make a basic outline, and you probably ignored them. I did too. But they do help. They don't need to follow any specific format; play around and find what works best for you. I usually decide what I want to talk about in each paragraph, and write down my support for each point, along with where I found the information to make citations easier. My outlines are handwritten: informal, messy, and covered in arrows from moving points around. Yours may be typewritten with neat bullet points. It's up to you.
Step three: Write the essay!
Look at your outline: it's basically your complete essay. Follow your own instructions, and add an introduction and a conclusion.
That's it! You're done! Proofread, write your bibliography, turn it in, and get yourself a treat! You've earned it!