Tips for Scheduling Your College Research Writing Time

Writing in college is substantially different than the writing assignments you completed in high school.

Some of the differences include:

    Complexity of the assignments

    Theses, term papers, and even university level research papers require more critical thinking and superior organizational skills when compared to even your higher level grade school assignments.


    Longer papers require different writing and organizational strategies, compared to the shorter assignments you’ve written in the past.

    Sources and citations

    While you undoubtedly used sources, and perhaps even practiced citing them in-text in grade school, your university professors will expect you to source your current assignments far more rigorously.

Here are some tips that will help you adapt to the new requirements you’ll have to meet.

    Organize, organize, organize

    When working on a research project, you can’t stay too organized. To keep things orderly, cross reference your notes in several ways. Tag sources with the supporting idea you intend to cite them in defense of, type out the full citations for the works cited page as soon as you think a source might be useful, jot down page numbers (or links to specific quotes) so that you can find them easily, and keep all of your notes organized by what section of your paper they’ll apply to.

    Outline everything

    Before you write a single word, outline everything from the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself back tracking frequently to rewrite, and you won’t get the most out of your writing time, not by a long shot. The more organized you are and the more thorough your outline process, the faster and simpler the writing stage will be.

    Schedule your writing over the course of several days

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can bang out a research paper the same way you can an essay. It’s simply not that easy, and it will cause you problems. Writer’s fatigue is a real phenomenon, and even if you manage to finish, you’ll find that the quality of writing is low. Writers are more effective if they write in 45 minute to one hour “bursts.” For most writers, their most productive and high quality writing occurs in the morning, so if possible, write in the morning. The next day, start your session by reviewing what you wrote the day before, before moving on to the next scheduled “burst.” You’ll find the writing process is painless this way!

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