Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Manage Your Resources

To manage your resources, you need to have an understanding of why and how you will use them in your paper. You will need to keep accurate records of what you use from your resources and how you think these resources will contribute to your developing paper.

Good management of your research paper starts with keeping accurate and complete records from the beginning. Ordinarily honest students can be tempted to plagiarize when their record keeping has been poor and they face an impending deadline. To keep good records, you must first understand the documentation standards you are using or what your style guide requires. Then, you need to devise a system for recording and keeping essential information. Your research resources are your notes, summaries of articles, bibliography cards, and any articles or pages you photocopied for your research.

The advantage of having these photocopies is that you can go back and find the exact quote or passage you want to reference. The disadvantage is that you might fail to read and evaluate the material in light of your research question and thus lose your sense of what was originally important in the material. Sometimes summarizing your sources when you first discover them keeps your research task fresh and foremost in your thinking. Chapter 5, "Academic Integrity and Documentation," offers specific suggestions for keeping records, as do many of the writing texts listed in Appendix A, "Books to Help You Improve Your Writing."