Articles come in many sizes and levels of complexity. There is no single set of rules that fits every project, but there are guidelines you should follow to keep yourself on track throughout the weeks as you prepare, research and write. You will complete your project in stages, so you must plan ahead and give yourself enough time to complete every stage of your work.
Your first step is to write down the due date for your article on a big wall calendar, in your planner, and in an electronic calendar.
Plan backward from that due date to determine when you should have your library work completed.
A good rule of thumb is to spend:
- Fifty percent of your time researching and reading
- Ten percent of your time sorting and marking your research
- Forty percent of your time writing and formatting
Timeline for Researching and Reading Stage: 1 week for short papers with one or two sources
Itís important to get started right away on the first stage. Give yourself time to collect many possible resources for your project. You will soon find that some of the books and articles you choose donít actually offer any useful information for your particular topic. Youíll need to spend sometime online or make a few trips to the library. You wonít finish in one trip.
Youíll also discover that you will find additional potential sources in the bibliographies of your first selections. Sometimes the most time consuming task is eliminating potential sources.
Timeline for Sorting and Marking Your Research: 1 day for a short paper
You should read each of your sources at least twice. Read your sources the first time to soak in some information and to make notes on research cards.
Read your sources a second time more quickly, skimming through the chapters and putting sticky note flags on pages that contain important points or pages that contain passages that you want to cite. Write key words on the sticky note flags.
Timeline for Writing and Formatting: Four days for a short paper with one or two sources
You donít really expect to write a good article on your first attempt, do you? You can expect to pre-write, write, and rewrite several drafts of your article. Donít get held up writing any section of your articleóespecially the introductory paragraph. It is perfectly normal for writers to go back and complete the introduction once the rest of the paper is completed.
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