Have a clear picture of the expectations for your paper. Ask yourself these questions to make sure you know what your instructor is looking for. If you're unsure of the answers, ask your instructor for clarification.
An Assignment Calculator is a great tool that will help you plan the time required for your paper by breaking it down into smaller steps and providing suggested completion dates.
Choose a topic of interest to you. Unless your Instructor has assigned the topic, choose something you genuinely want to learn about.
Create a plan for how you are going to search for resources. Translate your ideas into a search by following these instructions:
Breakdown of topic by key concepts example and list synonyms
How does using technology in the classroom help students improve their literacy skills?
Determine which types of resources will best support the ideas in your paper. Follow your instructor's directions on which types of resources they'd like to see in your paper. Often it's best to use a variety of resource types in an assignment.
Your best bet for resources. Databases provide articles from academic journals, magazines, newspapers and more. Our databases also provide complete citations for every article within.
Start with your program guide – which databases and journals are suggested for your program? Try searching the subject-specific databases as well as the multi-subject databases.
Use the tools of the database to narrow down and filter your search – full-text, peer-reviewed, date published.
Resources from the web
There’s a lot of great information on the web. Start with a few of the Recommended Websites in your Program Guide. Remember to evaluate any information you find on the web for:
Keep your notes organized. If you start by setting up a way to keep track of the resources you find, you can save yourself time and frustration in the later stages of your writing. We often think that we will remember which quotes or ideas came from which article or book, but lose track of them after reading several resources.
Once you’ve defined your topic and found relevant research, you can start organizing your paper. Creating a thesis statement to refer back to as you’re writing and filling in an outline for each section of your paper will help keep you on topic during the writing process.
What is a Thesis Statement?
"A thesis statement clearly identifies the topic being discussed, it should only cover what is being discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience. Your thesis statement belongs at the end of your first paragraph, also known as your introduction. Use it to generate interest in your topic and encourage your audience to continue reading.” Source: Rasmussen College, What is a Thesis Statement? Library & Learning Services, retrieved Feb 07, 2019.
Your thesis statement is the main argument of your paper and should be 1-2 sentences long. Everything you write in the body of your paper should support your thesis statement. A thesis statement will help you stay focused and on point.
For a better understanding of what a thesis statement is and how to develop one for your paper, check out Creating a Thesis Statement from the Learning Portal (College Libraries Ontario).
Creating an outline of your paper is a great way to organize your thoughts and stay on point when writing your paper. Your outline doesn’t have to be formal. Remember your outline is a guide for you to follow when pulling your paper together.
Your outline should include:
You have gathered all your research material, have a clear outline and are ready to start writing. Keep your audience in mind and explain each idea clearly.
Now you're ready to write your first draft. You should have a thesis statement, an outline of your paper, and a collection of notes and sources with which to write the content of your paper.
When to Cite your Sources
All information and supporting evidence that you are presenting in your paper should have a citation telling the reader where that information is from. This includes:
Terms to Know
Citing your sources is important to show your audience that the facts and statements in your paper are supported by accurate information. Using quotations in moderation and a variety of paraphrased and summarized passages related to your thesis statement, can enhance the quality of your writing.
For more information, check out our guide on Citing Your Sources, or speak to your Library Learning Coordinator.
Your second draft is usually easier to craft because you already have the material written down. The purpose of a second draft is to look critically at your paper's structure, rework sections that might cause confusion, and make your writing more concise. In the second draft, you can start paying attention to punctuation, grammar, style of writing, and other technical issues you ignored in the first draft copy.
Helpful tip: Read your paper aloud to yourself. Your ear will pick up on any confusing passages or awkward phrasing better than seeing your writing on paper.
When preparing your final draft, you'll need to go through your work carefully, looking for any grammar mistakes, making your wording more clear and concise, and reading your paper for style and tone. It is also time to format your paper as specified in your assignment; add a cover page, if necessary; double check your in-text citations as well as your reference list or works cited. It is always a good idea to give your paper a final read through out loud.