Unsolicited advice on how to write a successful research paper quickly and competently:
My classmates tell me my method is revolutionary, so I present it for your benefit. No guarantees for science papers (sorry).
- Pick your topic.
- Find books and articles on your topic. Do this at the actual library.
- Bring your references home. Start googling. You are not using Google to find your sources, but to find the right content within your primary sources. So, for example, I am currently writing a paper on Justin Martyr and inclusivism. I googled “Justin Martyr inclusivism” and was immediately presented with quotes which directed me to the relevant portions of his work. This cuts down on unnecessary reading time extensively.
- Fire up Amazon. Search for your secondary sources which are books on Amazon. Many of them will offer the “look inside” option. Use this to search for terms and names key to your topic. Even if you cannot view the results in the preview, you will get the page number and, again, will save a serious amount of time.
- Use to do the same thing with any books or articles which are not available to “look inside” on Amazon. Add “pdf” to your search of the work’s title for better results. If you don’t have very many good results, also be sure to use the index.
- Whenever you find a relevant quote or passage in a given work, mark it in your physical copy with a little post-it note. Read the surrounding paragraphs to see if they have other relevant info.
- Once you’ve put all your post-it notes in a given work, go back through and type (or copy from PDFs you found online) each relevant quote or fact. Put in your footnotes as you go; and sort your quotes into broad categories. When you are done, you will have a Word document with every quote and fact you need to reference in your paper. Your citations will be already done for you, and you will have familiarized yourself with your topic in the process.
- Now, take the assignment you were given. Use it to make an outline of your paper. Be detailed. Your outline should be at least a page long for every eight pages of paper you have to write. If you can make it even longer, do it. The current paper I’m writing is eight to ten pages; my outline was three pages; I just have to fill in the blanks.
- If your paper is longer than fifteen pages, drop the sourced quotes in the outline as you go. Expect a very long outline.
- Now, write your paper. You have already done the bulk of the work, and this part will go very quickly. For total time, from research to final edits, anticipate about one hour per page for A-quality writing at a Master’s level of research. And you’re done.