4 Tips to Write a Stress-Free Research Paper

4 Tips to Write a Stress-Free Research Paper

What is one of the most demanding college assignments when it comes to executive function skills? Writing research papers. Why? When tasks are newer, more complex, and more long term, they will be more difficult. A research paper is all of these things and more. Writing a research paper involves many steps, takes place over a long period of time, and involves engaging with a lot of new information. 

Here are a few strategies that students can use to reduce the stress of a research paper, become more efficient, and produce higher quality work.

1. Create a Reference Sheet for Each Sources

Students should create a reference sheet or graphic organizer for each source. The graphic organizer or reference sheet should include a formal citation of the source, a summary of what it is about, any important direct quotations, and other sources that were referenced and could be helpful for further research. This will help a student organize their thoughts as they are researching. When it comes time to write, all of the information they need from the sources will be prepared and instantly ready to use. Check out Canva for some great editable designs! 

2. Step-by-Step Deadlines

This will require students to break their paper into much smaller steps and formulate a plan that will allow them to chip away at the paper. Sometimes these research papers can be assigned over an entire semester. If students aren’t organized and managing their time well, they will be left with a disaster at the end of the semester.

3. Outline, Outline, Outline

Research papers are usually quite long and intense. Once students get through the initial research phase, they need to create an outline that is as detailed as possible. They also should include which sources will be used in specific sections prior to writing. Outlining keep the process of writing a lengthy paper from becoming overwhelming and helps writers better organize their ideas. Learn more about outlining here!

4. Write With Others

Writing is one of the toughest tasks to initiate. If a student has executed the steps so far, they have all their citations cued up, they have a very detailed outline that specifies where each of these sources will be discussed, and they are ready to write. Even with this level of detail, it’s still difficult to DO the writing. Setting up a “writing date” with a friend can really help students push through any procrastination they may be feeling. Study or work groups can also be a great support when tackling challenging projects like writing a research paper. 

Papers can be the largest stressor that a student faces in a semester. There’s really no reason for that. When done correctly, these papers can have plenty of rounds of editing and be turned in early for a much better grade with minimal stress.

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