Tips for Writing the Perfect Paper

By University of Arkansas Grantham

A new set of college online degree courses always brings an assortment of final projects, including the dreaded final paper. But this term, when you are assigned that final paper, hold in your groans. We're going to review some tips that will help you write an "A" paper.

    • Topic: Choosing a topic can be one of the most challenging aspects of writing a paper, especially when your professor says that you can write about whatever you want. Don't pick a topic that is too broad or too narrow. Your topic should also be interesting and easy to explain. For example, you might not want to write about the benefits of molecular engineering for your Sociology class. Jot down a few topics and do some preliminary research to see which topics have the most current information. That's the topic that you'll probably want to choose.
    • Thesis: Once you have chosen your topic, develop your thesis around it. A thesis is the main argument of your paper. Developing a thesis will help you organize and create your paper. For example, if you decide to write about the Internet as a marketing tool, your thesis might sound something like this, "Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should capitalize on this potential by using web pages that offer both advertising and customer support."  Keep in mind that as you begin your research, your topic may change and your thesis may have to be revised.
    • Research: One of the biggest tips regarding research is, don’t put it off until the last minute. Your professor has probably given you most of the semester to write your paper, so why wait?  Have you ever heard the expression, “The early bird catches the worm?”  Well, it’s true. To begin your research, use EBSCO, Grantham’s online library; search engines; articles; and Web sites. In the case of Web sites, URLs that end in .gov, .edu, or .org may be more reliable than information found at a .com. In either case, it is important to evaluate your resources and understand where they obtained their information. Also, don’t rely completely on Web sites for your sources, your local library is full of journals, periodicals and books that professors will want to see cited in your paper.
    • Outline: Creating an outline for your paper is important, because it ensures that you will touch on all of your main points in a logical format. To create your outline, list all of the important points that you want to cover, group similar ideas together, and then put them into an order that makes the most sense.
    • Rough Draft: Creating a rough draft should be the easiest portion of your assignment. Just sit down at your computer and let your thoughts flow. Save the formatting and revising for when you are finished.
    • Revisions: Provided that you planned ahead, don't look at your rough draft for a few days. When it is time to do your revisions, you'll be reading it with fresh eyes which will enable you to spot sections where your research, content, or arguments need to be stronger. Ask yourself if your thesis statement is clear and easily understood; if there is a clear introduction, body of the paper and conclusion; if the order of your paragraphs make sense; if all of your sources are cited properly; and most importantly, make sure your paper says what you want it to say.
    • Proofread: This is a very important step in the term paper writing process. Oftentimes, points are deducted from a paper, not because the content wasn't good, but because there are careless grammatical mistakes. If using proper grammar isn't your strength, ask a friend or colleague to review your paper. One very effective proofreading tip is to convert your paper to the Courier font and read it out loud. Because Courier uses equal spacing for all characters, it forces you to pay closer attention to the text.
    • Utilize "The Writing Center": The goal of Grantham University's Writing Center is to help you become a better writer. In the Writing Center, you can access resources and get feedback on written assignments. You can submit a draft of your paper to the "Drop Box," and a tutor will give you feedback. Keep in mind that the tutor's job is not to proofread your assignment but to help you with the content, organization, and style of your writing. For more information about The Writing Center, log-in to GLife, click on the Resources tab and click on the Student Advising & Learning Center channel.

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