Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scheduling Research Projects

When you are just starting out, a research assignment may seem overwhelming. It can be helpful to break your projects into smaller tasks and lay them out on your calendar. While each project is different, here are some typical tasks you may wish to include:

  1. Receive Assignment.
  2. Select a Topic.
  3. Do Background Research.
  4. Form Research Questions.
  5. Research.
  6. Consult Reference Librarian.
  7. Review Results.
  8. Outline.
  9. Consult Instructor.
  10. Follow-up Research.
  11. Prepare First Draft.
  12. Send Draft to Writing Center.
  13. Prepare Final Draft.
  14. Proofread.
  15. Turn in assignment.

If you have a ten week term paper these tasks can be scheduled on different or multiple days, but what if you only have a week to prepare a 3-5 page research essay? Here is an example schedule where you are required to have 3 sources, one of which must be from assigned readings. Note that your topic will be taken from an article your instructor has provided and potential research areas will be identified during class discussion.
  • Week Before - Do assigned reading [Background Research & Select a Topic]. Discuss in class [Form Research Questions].
  • Monday - Receive Assignment. Search library databases for useful articles [Do Research] & Consult Librarian (not necessarily in that order!).
  • Tuesday - Read articles and highlight significant points, underlining possibly useful quotes [Review Results]. Organize your notes from the assigned reading and the articles so they form a coherent argument with supporting points [Outline].
  • Wednesday - Consult Instructor to be sure you are on the right track with your sources and outline. Do additional research if necessary. Revise Outline and begin First Draft.
  • Thursday - Complete First Draft & email to Writing Center -or- visit Writing Center for assistance, then Complete First Draft & email to Writing Center for comment/corrections.
  • Friday - Until Writing Center returns draft with comments (~24 hours), relax -unless- you left out important elements such as a works cited page, cover page, required header/footer or other formatting.
  • Saturday - Prepare Final Draft.
  • Sunday - Proofread - try reading it aloud, or see if you can get a friend/relative to read it for you as well. Revise as needed.
  • Monday - Turn in assignment.

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