DAY- 1 – Brainstorming a Research Topic Quickly
Read the prompt your teacher or professor gave you in university. Before you pick a topic, you will want to be sure that it fits within the confines of the assignment or not. Read the instructions very carefully as you may not want to waste time writing something and then find out that it does not fit the assignment given.
Imagine that this is your prompt: “Though virtually every 19th-century woman did domestic work inside the home, many also labored outside of their homes as well. Choose an occupation that American women frequently held in the 19th-century era. Write an 8-10 page research paper about this occupation precisely.”
Take note of the particular confines of the research paper as well. For example, you can only write about women’s work, and you must stick with any job American women held in the 1800s only.
Brainstorm a list of possible topics for your research paper as well. Think about the topics you already know a little about from class or personal interests or any other source. Your list of possible topics for a paper on 19th-century women’s labor might look like this mentioned below:
- Factory Labourer
Do a quick Google search on each of your topics provided or decided. If any of them return very few results, cross them off your list immediately. You would not have time to track down sources for a difficult topic, so go with one that returns lots of hits and information precisely.
Be sure that a lot of your hits return results from credible sources as well. Look for sites that end in .edu or .gov respectively.
Check to see if a Google search returns any books on your topic or not. Odds are good that you will be able to find at least part of the book (or a book review) online, so this will help you later on as well.
Select the topic of your research paper now. Pick a topic that returned a lot of credible hits on Google, and, if possible, also interests you simultaneously.
Let’s imagine that you chose midwives as the topic of your paper on 19th-century women’s labor. This topic returned a lot of hits from university and government sources, and there appear to be lots of books about 19th-century American midwifery precisely.
Write a preliminary outline of subtopics as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to write a simple outline before you get too far into your research respectively. This will help you form more in-depth searches as well. Odds are good that you will have to alter the outline as you go, but that’s okay and nothing to panic about. You may want to include some questions that you have about your topic in your preliminary outline as well.
You will probably want one subtopic for roughly every 2-3 pages precisely.
So for a 10-page paper, try to think of at least 3-4 subtopics if possible. It’s okay to have too many or too few at this stage also.
Your outline on 19th-century midwifery may look something like this as follows:
- Demographics – Which women were midwives? (Age? Race? Class?)
- Payment – Did people pay them in cash?
- Daily life – Did midwives have other responsibilities beyond childbirth? What did their daily lives consist of?
- Laws – Legality of midwifery?
- Qualifications – How did a person get to be a midwife?
- Stats – How many women were midwives?
DAY- 2 – Doing Research Online in a Time Crunch
Decide how you will organize your research as you go further. Especially since you are in a hurry, you do not want to have to waste valuable minutes trying to find a website you saw an hour ago or so. Choose an organization system that works well for you as you want it to work. Consider the following:
- Bookmarking the websites on your browser of choice
- Copy and paste links into a Word or Google document (which you can later turn into a Bibliography)
- Using a research organization tool such as Zotero (or any other site that keeps track of sources and creates Bibliographies)
Do a Google search on the first subtopic you noted down. Be sure to try various ways of phrasing it as well.
For example, if you want to find out about midwife demographics first, there are a variety of ways you might accomplish this as well. You might search for variations on any of the following topics namely:
- “19th-century midwife demographics”
- “How old were most 19th-century midwives?”
- “19th-century midwives, race”
Save the most relevant web pages that Google returns with. At this point, you should just skim them for relevance to your topic as well. You will look at them more carefully as you start to write the research paper.
Do not spend more than one minute on each page precisely. If you are fairly certain that it contains information that can help you, save it, and move on to the further step.
For example, if your search “19th-century midwife demographics” returned a chart from a university website organizing midwives by age, race, class, and location, you do not need to read the chart carefully right now precisely. This is a source that will help you, so you should save it and move on to the further one.
Use Google Books and Amazon previews as well. Google and Amazon have both digitized a huge quantity of books in their apps and websites which are of great help.
Start by searching for your subtopic on Google and Amazon respectively. Save links to any books that appear there.
If you find part of a relevant book on Amazon, but it’s missing pages that might help you, try Google Books (and vice versa) precisely. One of the two sites may have the part that you need without a doubt.
The advantage to looking at a digitized version of books is that you can use the search feature to find keywords relevant to your topic as well.
If you find a book that has exactly what you need, but the text of it is not available online, you may want to make a quick trip to your library and check it out as well. If you are not writing your whole paper in the library, it’s probably best to save a trip there until you have finished doing online research so that you can get everything you need all at once in the end.
For example, a book with a title like American Midwifery Before and After the Civil War may be worth the effort to track down precisely.
On the other hand, a book called, Life in the 18th Century, which appears to include just a few paragraphs on midwifery, may not be worth your time at all in the end.
Search Google Scholar for your subtopic precisely. This search engine will return peer-reviewed and reliable sources as well. Save your results too.
This search will return both scholarly articles and books as well. If any books appear, do not forget to go back and check for them on Amazon or Google Books respectively.
If you find a particularly helpful article, look for the “related articles” link as well. Clicking this may yield more good sources in the long run.
Some articles that Google Scholar returns will only have a preview or an abstract. If you cannot get all of the information you need from the text that appears, you can usually buy the article for less than $20 only. You may want to wait until you have conducted the bulk of your research to determine whether any articles are worth buying respectively.
Search online databases as well. If you have access to a college or university library, login, in and choose a database.
Search for your topic and subtopics in any of the databases you have access to with immediate results.
If you do not have access to a college or university library, and you are having trouble finding enough resources online, it might be worth your time to figure out if any of your friends or family have a university library login or not.
Repeat your searches for every subtopic precisely. Be sure to save all of the relevant sources as well.
At this point, you still should be carefully reading every source you find. Even if you are not sure that the source will be helpful to you, save it for later on. Eliminating sources later is much easier than having to do more research at the last minute precisely.
For example, maybe you ran across an article that discussed 19th-century midwifery worldwide respectively. A quick skim shows you that there may be some information here that helps you write about American midwives, but it’s hard to tell how much of the information will be useful at this point. Save the article anyway, and you can return to it later if you need to read or study.
Revise your outline properly. This is the time to decide for sure which subtopics you will write about in the paper. You will probably want at least 2-3 pages per subtopic, depending on how much information you found in your research. Narrow your focus to the topics that you have lots of information on and focus.
If any of your subtopics did not turn up enough relevant results for you to write a few pages about them, cross them off your outline without a second thought, immediately.
Perhaps you did not find much about how midwives were paid and how. There are a few good websites that talk about the exchange of goods in payment for midwifery services, but not enough information to yield several paragraphs precisely. Cross this topic off your list or absorb it into another subtopic, such as “daily life or so on.”
If any of your searches yielded ideas for new subtopics, add them to your outline as well.
Maybe as you were searching, you discovered that 19th-century American midwives frequently clashed with professional, licensed physicians, and you found lots of good sources discussing this issue as well. Add an appropriate subtopic (such as “conflicts with doctors”) to your outline immediately.
DAY- 3 – Writing a Research Paper Quickly
Start drafting. Pick the subtopic that you feel most comfortable with, and start writing about that topic, then work your way through the other subtopics as well.
Keep a Word or Google document open on one side of your computer (or one monitor, if you have dual monitors), and open your first resource under your first subtopic on the other side (or the other monitor) respectively. Be sure that you can see both at the same time without any chaos. This will save you a lot of time switching back and forth between screens and losing your place and concentration.
Begin with the first source that you open, and start reading carefully and with full attention. Absorb the information, and then write about it in your own words as much as possible.
Do not edit much as you go on with the work. It’s okay to just let your ideas flow at this point. Do not waste time editing sentences that you may eliminate later on.
Do not worry much about phrasing at this point. If you come to a place where you do not know how to express your thought, just make a note about what you are trying to express, highlight it so that you remember to return to it, and move on with the other.
Do not write your introduction first precisely. Your introduction will need to sum up your major points, so you should not write it until you have written the bulk of your paper well.
Cite as you go on with the work. Check your research paper instructions to determine how your instructor wants you to cite your sources in the paper. Citing as you go can help save time in the long run since you have your sources open and next to you present at the moment. That way, you do not need to filter through them all again once you have finished your paper and dusted it.
Each time you use information from a particular source, cite it immediately. Be very careful not to plagiarize in your haste as well.
You probably do not want to write out a full citation as you are creating your first draft only. Simply inserting a link or the title and author’s name is okay at this point. Do not waste valuable time formatting citations for information that you may decide to eliminate later on.
Adjust your outline again. After you have written a couple of sections, return to your outline to adjust it. Are you going to have enough information to reach the page limit using only the subtopics you have written about so far only? Do you need to expand the subtopics a bit or not?
For example, maybe you discovered that there is a lot to say about the daily lives of midwives respectively. You might want to cut out some of the other subtopics that you have not written about yet in the paper.
Finish drafting first. Write about any remaining subtopics on your outline, being sure to cite as you go without fail.
Keep an eye on the page limit as well. You do not want to write the bare minimum, because you will look like a slacker only. On the other hand, you do not want to waste valuable time by writing much more than you have to as well.
Take a break. It may seem counterproductive to stop working when you are under a time crunch, but it is important to let your brain rest for a little while so that your ideas can gel and the mind can also take some rest. Take a quick walk, do some yoga, eat a snack, or run a quick errand whichever is comfortable and smooth.
Write your introduction and conclusion respectively. Now that your ideas are all down on paper, summarize your arguments and major points in the intro and conclusion as well.
Write a strong thesis statement stating your major point or argument respectively. Be sure that this sentence is the last in your introduction stanza.
For example, perhaps the major point of your paper on midwives is that “Nineteenth-century American midwives, most of whom were middle-aged, working-class women, struggled to practice their trade in the face of economic hardships, increasing legal restrictions, and competition from licensed male physicians.”
FINAL STAGE (A FEW HOURS BEFORE SUBMISSION)
Revising and Polishing a Research Paper- Read and edit everything you have written so far thoroughly. This is a good time to flesh out half-formed thoughts as well. Keep your eye out for spelling and grammatical mistakes, but do not worry too much about this yet also.
Eliminate any paragraphs or sentences that do not support your thesis or point of view.
This is the time to slow down and read everything carefully with utmost concentration.
Format your footnotes as well. Be sure to do so according to the style guide your instructor or discipline prefers only.
Write your Bibliography now as well. Be sure to only include sources that you used in the paper and not any random resources. Refer to the appropriate style guide for formatting the paper.
Take another break now. At this point, you will probably be very tired and frustrated. Grab a cup of coffee, eat a snack, do some jumping jacks, or anything similar. Try to resist the urge to look at screens at this point. Your eyes are probably tired of staring at the computer screen for so long.
Proofread your paper now. Check for spelling and grammar errors and inconsistencies if any.
If you have access to a printer, it’s a good idea to look at a hard copy at this stage as well though it is not necessary or compulsory.
Submit your paper! Phew.