Don’t you love walking into your classes to find out that you have a research paper to write? How about having multiple papers to write? I’m sure nobody enjoys having that sort of load of homework to suffer. At least not most of the time, as one paper can be enjoyable if you get to write about a subject you love. In fact, 89% of students hate writing essays and hire professional services instead. However, there comes an inconvenience when you have to go to the library and check out several books, browse the internet, looking through everything for information you need and then keeping it straight. But not all is lost – since my first research paper written my junior year of high school, I have developed a system for writing research papers that will help the unorganized keep their sources straight.
Things You Will Need
- Your sources – all books, printed articles, TV specials, etc
- About 50 or so index cards
- Something to write with
Make source cards. This might sound really strange, but cite each of the sources you’ve collected in the proper format for your paper on its own card and number each one chronologically. Make sure you write the number you’ve given each source up in the corner of the card so it’s easy to see. Keep these cards separate.
Once you’ve made a source card for all of your sources, start browsing through your sources for the information you need for your paper. Just go through each source individually and write down any related information on your index cards. Paraphrase some, directly quote others, and summarize the rest. Get as much of your own words down on the cards as possible. On each card, write which source it came from in one corner and in the other corner write a keyword on what the card was about.
Do this for each source and aim to fill out about 50 index cards. The front and back of one card count as two cards, but only write on the back of a card if it’s related to the front of the card.
Arrange your cards according to subject. All cards with similar keywords should go together to create groups of related ideas and facts.
Arrange the groups of cards in the order you want to discuss certain aspects of your subject in.
Sit down and start writing your paper! You may need to clear up how certain groups of cards flow together, but you’ve essentially written a research paper on cards. When you need to cite a certain fact, you can look at which source it’s from and then cite it straight off of your source card (more info on how to cite properly).
Like all methods, there may be flaws and revisions in this system that will need to be addressed from person to person based on how they work. However, this is not meant to be the only way to write a research paper. Experiment, find the system that works for you.