“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Does your child struggle with planning a research paper assignment?  Does he/she underestimate the time needed to complete it?  Do you see any procrastination involved?  Do you think executive functioning issues are impacting his or her academic success?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, this blog will help give you some ideas on how to tackle the problem your child may be experiencing with completing research papers.

A research paper assignment involves a considerable amount of discipline, even for the most conscientious student.  This is because it requires meticulous planning and organization.  Regardless of writing ability, a research paper assignment can produce frustration in those who have a tendency to procrastinate.   Waiting to the last minute on even soft deadlines has a cumulative effect on the final grade, and it robs your child the benefit of the feedback needed to produce a better paper and become a better writer.

The best advice for a student is to make a plan and stick to it.  Start off by creating a timeline with both hard and soft deadlines.  To keep your child on track with research paper deadlines, Thought Co. recommends creating a visual of the timeline like a wall calendar and then duplicate it in his or her planner and an electronic calendar if applicable.  From there, they suggest planning backwards from the due date to determine the time needed to complete the assignment.

When it comes to the research and writing aspect, they suggest spending 50% of the time researching and reading, 10% sorting and marking research, and 40% writing and formatting.  For example, papers with one or two sources, they recommend that students spend about four days to write and format their paper, and one to two weeks for up to ten pages, keeping in mind that students should expect to prewrite, write, and rewrite their papers multiple times, and also rewrite their thesis a few times as their paper develops.

The faculty at Sewanhaka Schools has created the following suggested timeline, detailing the elements of a research paper:

  • Select a topic that interests your child, starting at least two months before the due date
  • Begin with a general topic in the beginning, but once the research process has begun, the topic should begin to narrow and ideas for a preliminary thesis should develop
  • Research the topic, giving your child a month to acquire and evaluate the resources
  • Write sources on bibliography cards and make notecards for the material to be included in the essay
  • Develop a thesis that is an original statement containing an argument or claim that your child believes that he or she can prove, taking about a week to develop the thesis and organize the material
  • Make an outline detailing the information going into each paragraph
  • Organize the works cited page, and take about a week to decide which resources to use
  • Write a rough draft
  • Type, proofread, and make corrections within a week’s time
  • Submit it to a plagiarism checker like Turnitin

Students should seek feedback for each draft, leaving ample time between corrections and suggested improvements.  When the student waits until the last minute for feedback, it can limit him or her receiving the full benefit of the teacher or tutor’s expertise.  An example of this is when one of our tutors worked at a college writing center where it was not uncommon for students to seek last minute help.  There were times when a student would bring in a final draft for review only to learn that they didn’t understand the assignment and had to start over, leaving them very little time for revisions and feedback for the new paper.

A lack of planning results in frustration and anxiety and greatly reduces the chances to earn a good grade.  In addition to the impact on a student’s grades, there is also the added benefit of having someone like a qualified writing tutor offer suggestions and improvements for the paper, which helps the student become a better, more well-rounded writer.

Whether your child struggles with the planning or writing aspect of a research paper, our tutors can help demystify the research paper writing process.  We have experienced writing tutors who can bring accountability and keep your child on schedule, as well as give your child the tools needed to improve his or her writing.

We, at Dynamis Learning Academy, are here to help your children with their academic needs including helping them plan, organize and write a great research paper.  Contact the owner, Helen Panos at helen@dynamislearningacademy.com or at 770-282-9931, to schedule a free consultation and help your child reach his or her full potential when it comes to writing.

Helen is an expert educator with over 25 years of years of experience.  She believes in the importance of helping children reach their potential and become well-rounded, intelligent citizens with a positive influence and impact on society. She assists parents in accessing the best skills, strategies, tools, and resources to help children be successful and ultimately excel in the world.