Although parents of college students don't usually get too involved with their children's work, many parents are paying the bills, and a failed class means more money to make up for the class hours that don't count towards graduation.
Whereas a phone call or a visit from the parent may not be received well, forwarding this article with its resources to your student may help motivate him or her to plan for the impending end of semester's term papers and essays.
Guilford College Professor of English Jeff Jeske's Writing Manual is available through the College's Web site and offers vital helps and particulars for writing an "A" paper. Even if your student goes to college out of state or at another N.C. college, he or she can access this writing manual. The guidelines presented can be applied to most any paper in any area of study.
Writing a research paper requires good planning, research, and organization. The Writing Manual will help and in addition, these tips will help make the process go more smoothly.
Planning the Paper
- Start early. A quality paper cannot be researched and written in two or three days.
- Choose a topic that is as narrow as possible.
- Read and take notes from journal articles, books, and historically accurate documents.
- Keep track of the research using an online tool such as BibMe so that time won’t be wasted in the final days looking for information on the sources used.
- Utilize the Research Librarian and the Professor of the class for additional resources and / or ideas.
- From the ideas and information write a preliminary thesis statement.
Writing the Paper
A college term paper requires analysis, not just reporting of facts or opinions. The analysis is based on facts and does have something to do with personal opinion, but is always supported with documentation from reliable sources.
Use the information gathered and preliminary thesis statement to formulate ideas, and then make a rough outline of how the paper will be formatted.
Using the outline to begin writing the first rough draft of the project. In the first draft, write without regard to word choice, transitions, or paragraphs. In this draft, do not write the introduction or conclusion, just the body of the paper.
However, do make sure that you include proper documentation of ideas or direct quotes. This will alleviate the potential for accidental plagiarism or incorrect documentation in the final paper.
After the first draft is written, read over the paper, circling errors, highlighting main ideas, misspellings, grammatical errors, and double-check that proper documentation has been made.
From this first draft, a final thesis statement can be written based on the findings and ideas presented in the paper.
Moving Towards Final Draft
When the next draft is ready to be written, keep the thesis statement clearly displayed at all times. Every paragraph written needs to support and focus on this statement.
Use transitional words between ideas and paragraphs so that the paper flows, displays organization, and makes it more reader-friendly. Study Guides and Strategies is a Web Site that gives transitional word choices by category.
After this draft is written, write the introduction and the conclusion based solely on the information presented in the paper. These two sections should not mimic each other, but should have similarities and should support any ideas presented in the paper.
The introduction should contain the thesis statement, usually positioned as the last sentence of the introduction. The conclusion should contain a paraphrased version of the thesis statement and usually fits well as the first or second sentence of the conclusion. Both sections should summarize the main ideas of the paper.
Before writing the final draft, ask someone to read the paper. Many colleges and universities have free tutoring services available that are staffed with professionals and peers who read and give feedback on papers. Call and schedule appointments in advance, especially as the end of the term approaches because time slots may fill up quickly.
Utilize the feedback to make the final changes to the paper. In addition, use the guidelines presented in the syllabus or assignment description to ensure that proper procedures, documentation, and special instructions have been followed.
Following these ideas and guidelines will help the writing process seem less cumbersome and overwhelming, and an on-time submission of the paper will enhance the likelihood of a satisfactory grade.