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Term Paper Tips

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Whether it's your first or your fortieth big writing assignment, a term paper can be a little overwhelming at first. These term paper tips can help you plan for smooth progress. If you plan well, you can avoid common pitfalls that get students into trouble.

1. Start gathering sources early. You don't have to start writing if you don't want to--but make sure you do some research right away so you'll know you can write when you're ready. If you wait around to start gathering sources (with no luck), you can find out when it's too late that your topic isn't going to work.

2. Learn to use flag pens and highlighters to organize your research.

3. Create a research timeline and stick to it.

4. Learn you way around the library and introduce yourself to the reference librarian.

5. Use a variety of sources. Don't settle for a few books on a topic; mix in some journal articles and expert interviews.

6. Learn to take notes with research note cards.

7. Learn to avoid plagiarism. Did you know that using one short sentence (just three words) from the internet will get you a failing grade on a paper?

8. Don't get overwhelmed by too much information. If you learn to code your research you'll find that writing the paper is a breeze.

9. Include statistics and date to support your findings and assertions.

10. Write a first draft and revise it a few times. Nobody writes a good paper on the first pass. Write a draft, put it down for a day, take a look at your thesis statement to see if the rest of the paper supports it, then start on a second draft.

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