University is a big jump for a lot of students, but here are some tips to help you out when you start that first paper.
1. Start early
Starting early isn’t just about having more time to write the paper, and saving yourself stress later. It’s also about having the time to do more research and make a better foundation for that paper. When you set out to start your paper, take the time to do some research before you start writing it.
2. Use Wikipedia, just use it right
Face it. You’re going to use Wikipedia. You’ll get tips to use Wikipedia’s sources: “Just don’t cite from wikipedia”, “Use it as the starting point for your research”, and “Follow the resources.” But there are some other ways to use Wikipedia.
Use the talk and history pages to find out if there is controversy about your topic. While not all controversy is worth merit, but it is worth being aware.
Check your sources against Wikipedia to see if there have been developments since your articles have been published. Because Wikipedia is such a popular site, it is more likely to update quickly with new information.
Just make sure that you’re careful.
3. Use the library
Librarians aren’t hired to put books on shelves, they’re hired to be able to organize and access information. Going to a library may not just point you towards journals and articles for your paper, but also help you learn how to effectively read through articles to find the information you need.
Another benefit is that by using the library, you might even get access to journals which otherwise would cost money to access, so you might not even have to worry about having to choose between paying an access fee and giving up that perfect article.
4. Know what the professor is looking for
This might seem obvious, but you want to make sure that you are writing the paper that your professor has assigned to you. If you have given yourself time to write it, you should also read through your sources and information and ask “but is this relevant?”.
5. Get someone to read it
You’re in university, your ideas are innovative, your creativity flowing, your grammar and spelling flawless! Well, almost. After you’ve finished writing your paper, get some people to read it for you. It usually doesn’t take a lot of time, and it can save you a lot of embarrassment.