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Planning time to complete your research paper

Going through school is more often more than just getting a bunch of grades and ending up with a piece of paper called a “diploma” in your hands. In the end, it is all about learning, about the information you take with you to your first job, about all those extra-curricular activities that shape you as a person and that give you the skills you need to actually practice a profession, about all those connections you make and about learning how precious your time can be.

Writing a research paper is one of the most difficult and most important things you will sooner or later have to do in college. Regardless of its size, you may find it to be a thing that is quite hard to do, especially if you do not have experience in writing this kind of academic papers. However, by the end of it you will be proud of your achievement (and even more so if the paper is on a topic you actually enjoy reading and writing about).

You have to keep in mind the fact that time management is crucial when it comes to research papers. You can study for an exam the night before it and pass it and you can start writing an argumentative essay the night before the deadline, but research papers need more than that. These papers need you to actually find materials, read them, take out the information that is interesting for your paper, organize all these pieces of information and then put everything together by respecting every single norm of the academic style in which you have to write the paper.

Basically, there are X phases of the research paper writing process and each of them will need a certain amount of time. Make sure that you allow yourself all this time if you want to submit a truly great paper in the end.

  1. Allow about 1/10 of your time to finding the exact topic and title of your research paper. That means that if you have 20 days before the deadlines, you can spend 2 days (or less) to find an adequate topic and check with your teacher if it is right.
  2. Allow another 1/10 of your time to establishing a structure (or a table of contents, if that is required) for your research paper. Make sure you organize everything and that you will know for sure where you take every single piece of information from.
  3. Allow about 4/10 of your time to actually research the topic. This may be the most difficult part. Make sure you gather up materials and that you only go through those chapters that are actually relevant for your research (but do remember to check with the introduction and conclusion, since they can contain important information as well).
  4. Allow about 3/10 of your time to writing down everything you have researched. Make sure to respect the referencing code of the academic style you are using (MLA, APA, etc.). Also, you can choose to start with the actual introduction of your paper, but you may find it easier to write that at the end.
  5. Allow the rest of 1/10 of your time to write down the introduction and conclusion of your paper. If you have done a proper research, this may go quite easily. However, do remember the fact that referencing is required here as well.