On Writing the Final Paper

by Reva

Completing your final paper can feel overwhelming, especially when you are already preparing for other exams. However, with proper preparation and fluid processes, writing your final paper can easily be chunked out into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks.

1. Select a topic you genuinely care about! This may be difficult if you find the course material uninteresting, but spend time thinking about how you can apply the content to a subject you enjoy. If you are unsure about your topic, reach out to the instructor.

2. Outline your paper in a way that is helpful to you. Whether your outline is simple and just states main ideas, or if it is more in depth (featuring key points and topic sentences), it should be easy for you to build upon. Either way, make sure your central claim is clearly defined—if it is still vague, consider narrowing the focus of your paper.

3. Work on a rough draft. Try setting aside about an hour to write uninterrupted. For research papers, don’t fall into the trap of simply summarizing sources without making your input the forefront of your paper. The most difficult part of writing is often getting the bulk of the main ideas down, so make that your priority!

4. Start getting feedback on your work thus far. Don’t be afraid to approach your instructor during office hours to go through your writing! If you want feedback from a peer, try making an appointment with a writing tutor at the APAC. We recommend that you schedule an appointment to talk through your ideas with a tutor, but we also offer asynchronous feedback through email.

5. Begin the revision process! Feel free to work through several drafts during your process—by no means should you write your paper all in one go. Take time to read your paper out loud in order to catch awkward wording, or run-on or choppy sentences. At this stage, make sure you are including citations and giving credit where it’s due. Writing tutors are happy to help with any grammar or writing craft concerns that may arise!

6. Check and re-check your citations. Citing your sources is an important step in building the credibility of your argument, thus making your claim stronger! While writing your paper, try to keep your sources organized in one place where they are easy to access. If it helps, make a table of your sources, or place online sources into a bookmarks folder—whatever feels the most intuitive for you. Zotero is a free, easy to use citation manager, where you can keep your sources and your notes organized and within easy reach. Make sure you check your in-text citations: are the right page numbers and authors mentioned? In addition to meeting with a tutor, you can visit the APAC website for various resources regarding APA and MLA citations! You can also use resources like the Purdue Owl as you’re building your bibliography.

Remember, it is always best to start early and plan ahead in order to ensure your paper can get feedback. There are writing tutors at the APAC ready to help out with each stage of the writing process!