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Guide to Writing a Research Paper That Shines

Guide to Writing a Research Paper That Shines

Sometimes being tasked with writing a research paper can seem intimidating, but the reality is that when approached in the correct manner, writing a paper is quite simple. This guide tells you the steps that are needed to write a research paper that will come together with ease and impress your teacher or professor.

Choose the Topic

The topic should be one that both captures your interest and challenges you. The attitude you have toward the topic can determine the level of effort and enthusiasm that is put into the research. The topic should be narrowed down from something broad to something specific. The teacher should approve the topic before you start research. If you are not sure what is expected in the assignment, read the assignment sheet again or ask the teacher. Stay away from topics that are too specialized or have a narrow range of source materials.

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Finding the Information

Using a search engine is a good starting point for research. When checking out websites, pay careful attention to the domain name extensions, these will tell you who owns the domain such as the government with .gov, a nonprofit organization with .org, or an educational institution with .edu. Many commercial sites are pretty good, but a large number contain only advertisements for products. Aside from websites, use magazines, newspapers, government publications, encyclopedias, almanacs, and regular books.

Thesis and Outline

In a nutshell, a thesis is a declaration of your beliefs. The body of the essay will contain arguments that support and defend this. All of the points in the outline should relate back to the thesis. The purpose of the outline is to think through the topic carefully and organize your paper in a logical manner before beginning to write it. All of the points that are covered should logically flow from one to the other. Included in the outline should be an introduction, the body, and conclusion.

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Organize Notes and Write the First Draft

Gather all of the information according to the outline, and use the best sources available. Check for accuracy in the data that is collected. If available, opposing views should be noted to help support the thesis. This is possibly the most important part of writing a paper because you analyze, combine, sort, and digest information that has been gathered to learn more about the topic.

Arrange the outline into workable sentences in the ideas. Each idea should be summarized, paraphrased, or directly quoted to make up the first draft.

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Revising the Outline and Draft

Read the paper and correct any content errors. Double check any facts that have been included. Rearrange ideas so that they follow the outline. Edit the outline if needed, but always keep the purpose of the paper in mind. Also, run the paper through a grammar and proofreading checker.

The Final Draft

The final draft should be typed and printed in good quality. Refer back to the assignment sheet to ensure that the essay meets the requirements. Proofread the final paper for any spelling or grammar mistakes. Plan to have the final paper done at least two days before the deadline, giving you the chance to check the paper over and have peace of mind that the assignment is finished on time.

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Conclusion

Writing a research paper is a combination of gathering credible information, and then arranging this information into a way that makes sense. When you follow this approach, it will become clear what is needed to do this. Above all, follow the instructions that are given by the teacher or professor. This will be the best bet in presenting the information that is required for a good grade.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

So, what to do in free time?

Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

1. Reading Files

Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

2. Clear out Inbox

Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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3. Phone Calls

Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

4. Make Money

This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

5. File

No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

6. Network

Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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7. Clear out Feeds

If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

8. Goal Time

Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

9. Update Finances

Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

10. Brainstorm Ideas

Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

11. Clear off Desk

Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

12. Exercise

Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

13. Take a Walk

This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

14. Follow up

Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

15. Meditate

You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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16. Research

This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

17. Outline

Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

18. Get Prepped

Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

19. Be Early

Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

20. Log

If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

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Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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