4 Things You're Not Doing In Your Research Papers

4 Things You're Not Doing In Your Research Papers

Your paper isn't a collection of randomized ideas, it's a conversation.

The end of the semester is grueling enough, and the fact that professors mercilessly assign 10-page research papers left and right only serves to increase the stress of wrapping up a semester of hell. Research papers loom like it’s their business to generate enough anxiety to power a whole factory, and ignoring all thoughts of the incoming deadline and topic that you haven’t even considered only makes things worse. Unless you’re an English major, this is probably one of the 10 essays you’ll ever write in your career, but it helps to have a set of strategies that are going to help these couple of papers go as smoothly as is possible for you.

1. Outline

Honestly, even as an English major, I used to consider outlining a bad word. But, if you're someone who struggles with structure, outlining is going to help you organize your thoughts like nothing else. Your outline doesn't need to be a thought web or a KWL chart or any of the ridiculous designs that your elementary school teachers swore by. All an outline has to be is an organization of ideas, which means ideal outlines don't exist. They vary from person to person and an outline that serves you well for one paper might drive your next paper into a complete disaster. Consider your topic, consider your ideas, and remember that there's nothing formally required of a quick outline.

2. Transitions

Transitions are going to help you take your thoughts and connect them so that your paper flows without sounding choppy. A good transition is going to be a sentence at the beginning of your new paragraph that ties your new idea to your old idea, much like the previous sentence of this bullet point has done. Your paper isn't a collection of randomized ideas, it's a conversation that you are having throughout the duration of those 10 pages. You don't interrupt yourself when telling your friend about your day by interjecting about an article you read in class last semester, so you shouldn't interrupt your dialogue about nuclear weapons with seemingly random paragraph about roaches. But...if you begin your roach paragraph with a comment about how cockroaches are probably the only insect capable of surviving a nuclear attack, your transition saves the day.

3. Broad statements

The other day, my professor voiced his desire to ban students from using the word "society" in their essay. What is society, who is society? The word is empty and being that vague and broad in your statements will only help you lose your audience. Ditch words like "certain" or "perspectives" and instead reference direct and concrete ideas. Figure out what you mean, and then say it.

4. Concluding with a thesis

One of the best things I've had said to me this semester has been that writing is thinking. The end of your essay is going to be significantly better than the beginning because you've spent your entire piece thinking about your subject, thus you're extremely likely to find your thesis in your conclusion. Pick it out and marvel at how damn brilliant you are for finding it...then pick it up, plop it into your introduction, and start your essay all over again.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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11 Dorm Essentials You'll Also NEED For Your Apartment Checklist

10. Whiteboard


The time has come for many college students to make their grand transition to a first apartment/house. However, thanks to a very tight budget, getting all those cool and new Pinterest-worthy decor is probably nearly impossible without breaking the bank. Who has the money for that when college loans are looming over every student's head? Here are 11 things you can totally take with you from your old dorm that will cross out some items on your apartment checklist:

1. Tapestry


If you had a tapestry anywhere in your dorm, take it with you! Hang it above a bed, couch, or use it as a rug! Cut it up, braid it, Pinterest it, and you're good to go.

2. Broom


Brooms aren't too expensive but why not save money where you can? Get some cute printed tape at a craft store and wrap it around the handle to make something that makes cleaning a little more fun.

3. Rubbermaid Containers


What once held school supplies can now hold wrapping paper, extra clothes, cleaning supplies... The options are endless.

4. Wall Art


If you have some you like, why not continue their legacy in your new space? Keep the color scheme going so you don't have to buy completely new stuff.

5. Shower Curtains


Your shower is bound to be bigger than the one you had in your dorm (thank God). To make your new bathroom look a little fancier, get a second shower curtain of the same pattern and have them open in the middle.

6. Shelves


Instead of using these for printers, books, etc, you can now put them up in your closet or bathroom and use them for shoes, towels, or whatever else.

7. Plants/Succulents


Instead of getting rid of them, keep your green thumb, get some new pots, and use them as coffee table/end table decor! Not only are they cute, but bring in a little color and overall make things a little brighter.

8. Books and Bookends


If you can't return or sell some of your old school books, consider keeping them and putting them in a bookshelf. They will make it look fuller, not to mention make you look more cultured. Then, keep your eyes peeled for some adorable bookends - cultured AND cute.

9. School Spirit Shirts


If you never plan on wearing your college spirit shirts ever again but DON'T want to get rid of them (sentimental value - I get it), send them into Project Repat that turns them into a quilt. Now you'll have something to remember your old college days without them taking up a ton of space with clutter.

10. Whiteboard


Don't ditch your whiteboard just yet! Instead of deadlines and assignments, use it to write down a shopping list, important phone numbers, or a new and inspiring quote every week.

11. Command Hooks


The sacred item that every college student NEEDS to have. There are awesome ways to reuse your command hooks: holding keys, dishtowels, jewelry, and so much more! You can even paint them to make them pop.

As you can see, there are so many amazing ways to transform your college dorm essentials into adorable must-haves that will transfer over to your next big move. Consider your apartment checklist completed!

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