1 Pick a narrow but innovative topic!
Whenever I read assignments, the main thing I look out for is a realistic topic area and objectives. This is one research paper! You cannot save the world if you are completing the assignment over 1-3 semesters (depending on where you are studying). Therefore, it makes good sense to pick a topic that you can cover thoroughly and that you have a good chance of finding the relevant data and literatre for.
What use is a paper suggesting that you will be solving climate change for all of planet Earth when in reality, you are more likely to be able to produce a better written paper evaluating contributing factors to climate change instead. The first option is clearly possible, however no one has achieved this yet – so one semester is unlikely to be long enough for it. Be innovative and try to contribute new knowledge but don’t be a hero! You are trying to complete the assignment successfully to the requirements of your institution at the end of the day. Remember, you have the rest of your life to expand on this piece of research.
2 Don’t plagiarise
Trust me! Plagiarism is your enemy. At the end of the day, you have decided that you want to learn and understand the topic you are studying so that you can function properly in a professional environment. You may not plan to work on a day-to-day basis in the industry you are studying in, but I’m sure you would love to be able to hold a conversation with someone about the topic.
Guess what? You are less likely to be able to do that if you haven’t at least understood the information and regurgitated it once in your own words. That is what paraphrasing is. Regurgitating information that you have understood without altering the content of the original writer. Obviously any such paraphrasing should be accompanied by the relevant in-text citation and noted in the reference section of your paper
3 Do not use those automatic text restructuring/paraphrasing websites!!!
Okay, I know I’ve already said don’t copy and paste. Also, do not use those annoying text restructuring websites whatever you choose to do! Every time I see the output of one of those sites it literally makes me sick. The way they work is to import the content that you paste and use a thesaurus to find synonyms for the same words. Now why is this a problem? Well let’s look at a simple example:
I will meet you over at the car darling! I’m just finishing up my makeup.
I will help you in in those auto darling! I’m exactly completing dependent upon my cosmetics.
• Is there a similarity between the 2sentences? No.
• Could you have done a better job with just an extra minute to think first? Yes!
Once you have looked over enough papers, you can see when this has been done. It’s very obvious and not worth the time re-sitting!
4 Record all your ideas and thoughts with your phone on the go!
Once essay season begins, there are moments where you are nowhere near your laptop/notepad and suddenly you have a Eureka moment! What do you do? Well the best thing to do is to record your thoughts as soon as possible. I regularly do this using WhatsApp by sending a voice note to my other phone. When I arrive home, I simply open the chat, go through the notes and update any documents that relate to the voice recording. With long documents like a final paper, as you become comfortable with the topic you are likely to spot pieces of information and inspiration while out on your daily travels.
Why waste these wonderful gems? Instead just
Record the notes
Save it or send it to yourself
and Transcribe the best parts into the paper!
If you end up realising that you feel more comfortable recording, you may find that you have recorded up to 1000 words! You would be surprised how much you can talk! In fact, I think it took me a total of 4minutes to dictate this into my computer. Give it a try!
5 Get at least five people to proofread it before submitting!
At the end of the day, as much as you understand your words and what you mean, this paper is being written for someone else to read and also understand. It makes good sense therefore that you get a few people you can trust to proofread your paper for you. You can then take their feedback and advice to turn your document into something that is not only a well researched piece of work but also easy to read and understand. Communication is a two way road but the truth is the biggest portion of responsibility lies with the sender of information not the receiver. Make sure what you are saying is clear and understandable!
Those are my top five tips! If you need more, there are many trusted sources online with tons of good advice for you to follow in terms of structure and more formal elements of the assignment. However, do not forget the most important part of the assignment is the moment where it is read by someone else.
I hope my tips support you on your journey. If you have any suggestions to add, include them in your comment below and expand this list!