Home, Student Services
Tutoring Center, Developmental
Education Services Home
Bucks County Community
of Effective Learning
Home, Topics Menu, Study
Skills, Concepts of Learning,
Web Site Resources, BC3
Help Resources, Learning Site Map
and Writing Papers
There are many excellent
text books and web sites on writing. They can
provide you with information and ideas on how to conduct research and on the
process of writing (and editing) a paper.
One of the most important
and overlooked aspects of the writing process is the need to PLAN AHEAD.
For many students, writing a paper means staying up the night before the paper
is due to write the FIRST DRAFT of their paper. By doing this, they deprive
themselves of the opportunity to think and write clearly. They make simple,
yet costly spelling and grammar mistakes that they would have easily caught
had they planned more efficiently. (We won't get into last minute problems with
floppy disks not functioning, printers jamming, or unsaved files being lost
during a power surge.)
More importantly, when
you treat a paper as a last minute project, you lose the opportunity to learn
something of personal value. The point of writing a paper is to explore
a topic of interest that you might not otherwise cover in class or to provide
the additional detail you need to meet your career or educational goals. For
this to happen, you must first choose a topic that really interests you.
Your motivation to learn will add a great deal to the quality of your paper
and to your enjoyment in writing it.
You can avoid problems
and optimize your learning (and grade) with some effective time management in
planning the research and writing process. The following are some suggestions:
- At the start of each
semester, get out a calendar and plan out
your semester. Look at the syllabus for each class. When are your
papers due? When are quizzes and tests planned? Notice when you have more
than one assignment due or test to take. How will you manage your time to
avoid last-minute log jams?
- As soon as the assignment
is given, read through the list of topics (if provided) or consider
what you want to learn more about that is not covered (sufficiently) by the
course. Think about what you might need to know for your future career or
- During the next week,
do some reading on a few of the topics that interest you. This should help
you to decide which is of most interest (or the "lesser of evils").
Search the library catalogs for books, magazine articles and other references
available on these topics. This will give you a "big picture"
on these topics and help you to identify resources that you will be able to
- One week after the
assignment is given, choose your topic.
- In the next week or
two, do some preliminary reading on your topic. Explore the different
ways you can approach your topic and what kinds of sources you might want
to include in your research. Jot down or start mapping ideas for "big
picture" possibilities for your paper.
- Take a week to outline
or make a map of the paper. This will serve
as a guide to the kinds of materials to look for when you start your research.
- Start conducting
your research. You'll need to set aside large chunks of time in the library
for hunting down the information and for making copies of articles or other
materials. It's important to start this process as early as possible, because
you may have to borrow materials from other college libraries, which may take
some time. (That's assuming that they will be available when you want them!)
Give yourself a deadline for conducting your research so that you will have
time for steps 8-11.
- Give yourself a week
or two to compile your notes and write a detailed outline of your paper.
The more time you put into organizing your paper, the better it will flow
when you sit down to write. This process will help you to see gaps in your
logic and information. You'll have plenty of time to do additional research
- Give yourself a week
or two to write the rough draft. You want to let it flow out of your
personal interest and the information you've collected from your research.
- Allow at least a week
to edit your rough draft. This way you'll have the time to put it down
when you get overwhelmed with the details and then take it up again with a
- Give yourself a week
to write your final draft. You'll want to take the time to read it
carefully for last minute edits and to make sure you've done your very best
Developed by Meg Keeley
Office, Bucks County Community College
With funding from the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education
Designed and Produced by Chimera Studio
Copyright 1997 Bucks
County Community College. All rights reserved.