Monday, November 16, 2015

Don't Panic, Organize!

by Justine Zapin

So your professor has assigned a research paper and you're like,

But then you sober up and think, “Hey, maybe I’ll just get all the research done now! I know how to use the search box, and then I’ll wait to write the paper. Writing at the last minute is the best recipe for producing a fantastic paper.”

So you hunker down and do the research. You get really great research. You know your research is sick – so good. Definitely top notch research from excellent, reputable sources. Your teacher wishes he had found these sources. What??!?!? And then you read through all of the articles and you realize:

Then you re-read through it and realize that you do understand. But there is so much of it. There is just so much stuff. And where on earth will you put it? How will it all fit in the paper? And where is the paper going? And where are you going? You should drop out. This can’t be what life is all about? And:

Not to fear. Should you have started earlier? Yes. Does that mean that you’re screwed? No. Sometimes when you are drowning in research and pieces of paper with thoughts scribbled, and – wait – where are your chemistry notes? You know you wrote down something about your research topic during that last chem lab – a thesis statement even! Where did that go?

So . . . Sometimes, when you are drowning in research – photocopies, random notes, thoughts scribbled on post-its and receipts, books – it helps to organize like a movie producer. Use the walls. Post all of your paper up on the wall and organize like that. The wall with the poster of Bieber gets all of the info/quotes you will use for the intro. The wall with your roommate’s Death to Smoochie poster can have everything you are planning to put into your body paragraphs. From there you can organize into specific paragraphs over that creepy clown’s face and so on. Or better yet – come to the Writing Center and we can help you plaster the walls!                        

Once the info – that great research – is out of the pile of imposing papers and out in front of you, organizing gets easier. It creates an outline that doesn’t reek of your eighth grade English teacher’s perfume and requires no extraneous bullet points. And guess what? Not only can you do this with any type of academic paper, but once assembled, the paper is practically written!


  1. @Justine, this post is awesome! But please fix the error in the first sentence:

    "So your professor has assigned a research paper and your like"

    "So your professor has assigned a research paper and YOU'RE like"

    (It's inevitable, right? That a post about writing has a typo? Yeah, happens to us all the time!!)


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