1. Understand your assignment. Discuss any concerns with your instructor.
What does your instructor expect? Ask about any assignments you don't understand. Remember, your instructor wants to see you succeed! Maintaining communication with your instructors throughout the semester can be the best step you take.
2. Don't wait to get started.
If you wait too long to begin an assignment, it may become overwhelming. You may not realize how much time it takes to formulate a topic, gather and read the research, and write about it in a properly formatted paper. Note the assignment deadline and set short goals for each step until you complete your project.
3. Break your assignment into smaller steps.
Tackling a 15-page paper in sections of two or three pages is easier. Your assignment's guidelines may differ, so check them carefully; however, you can approach most research paper assignments in the following steps:
4. Document each step and your sources well as you go along.
Avoid plagiarizing an author's work accidentally by carefully documenting every source you read. Save copies of articles and book chapters (including the book title and copyright pages) so that you have everything needed for a complete citation.
5. Spend time paraphrasing- don't just fill your paper with direct quotes
Remember that you must cite each source you use (whether you paraphrase, summarize, or directly quote), giving the author(s) credit, in the text of your paper as you discuss each of their ideas. When you paraphrase, be sure your paraphrased passage is sufficiently distinct from the original while conveying its meaning accurately. Not sure how to paraphrase? The OWL at Purdue has some great tips on paraphrasing.
6. Understand the required citation style and how to use it.
A citation style is a set of formatting guidelines for both your in-text citations and full citations on your reference/works cited list. A citation style may also determine the technical aspects of your paper, such as margin width, font size, and page number placement. Most classes at Holy Family use one of the two most common citation styles: APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association). See the "Citing Sources" tab on the left.
7. Get help with writing and citing!
No one needs to feel as though he or she can't get by in college without cheating or plagiarizing. If you do not understand how to complete your assignment correctly, ask for help! Remember, this is a learning process, and there are many resources available to help you along the way.