What's your process for writing a research paper? | INFJ Forum

What's your process for writing a research paper?

Discussion in 'Education and Careers' started by Gaze, Aug 27, 2010.

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  1. Gaze

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    What's your process for writing a research paper?



    How do you plan, research, write, etc.?



    How do you approach research and paper structure?



    How long does it take you on average to write a major research paper?



    Do you write it all at once or in parts? Do you write at the last minute?
     
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  2. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    simple, pick topic, check out books and internet articles, summarize articles from books and the internet, copy and paste summaries, connect the summaries with coherent thoughts.

    print paper, hand to professor, print another paper for when your professor's aid loses your first copy, proof read.

    all in that order.
     
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  3. OP
    Gaze

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    I'm curious about more than just the general process everyone follows. I'm asking about the personal/individual/unique ways people approach the writing process.
     
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  4. birdshit

    birdshit Newbie

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    research forever, then spend the last few hours coming up with something, sometimes half the length of what it's supposed to be.
     
  5. KazeCraven

    KazeCraven Graduated from Typology : May 2011
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    Search for an idea of what would be the most interesting subject within the field allowed.

    Read all I can about that area.

    Come up with other interesting subjects, read about them.

    Typically realize that my initial is the most interesting, despite falling short of my expectations.

    Wait until close to the deadline.

    Put paper together when I feel like it, or when I no longer have the luxury to wait.

    Reread for errors, then submit.
     
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  6. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    Well, back in the day when I used to do this:

    I'd user internal thinking to build up a model. Then I'd check it for consistency a whole lot, and when satisfied, use intuition to build a narrative. This narrative is often a 'first draft', but is usually a random stream of outpouring that would never be a proper first draft to show someone. I would then take that draft and 'sit on it' for a few weeks. Then I would re-read it and translate it into what I called "readable human form". This would be the actual first draft. One could almost think of the former document as an 'externalizing narrative in note form.'

    As someone who likes to read, I was always reading and adding things into an internal taxonomy. This taxonomy was also recorded externally in paper folders, and in computer form via a giant tree of recursive directories (folders) with subtopic folders inside topic folders. Then when it came time to cite sources and/or reread, I would descend the topic tree to find the point I was looking for. I'd say that organizing topics and subtopics, and making bridges between them was my strong point. My actual writing was far weaker.

    As far as paper structure goes, my natural narrative style is very difficult to read. I relied on a rather artificial style that divided a paper into many sections and subsections. This was not out of choice. It was a necessity. A natural writing talent need not use this approach.

    My argument structure was generally the typical conference/journal paper structure, with a problem statement up front, a direct statement of the conclusions I would make, and then the evidence I would present. Some professors hated this approach, claiming it was redundant, but I prefer a paper does this up front so that I can check them on it as I read the rest of the paper. I hated reviewing papers for a journal that implied one set of claims up front and then presented another in the body of the paper. Instant rejection in that case.

    In my case, some papers were written in a month. Others evolved over a year. This slow pace is one of the reasons I left academics. A good academic should be able to turn out a high quality paper with 3 to 5 days of 24-hour cycle working. (After spending months doing research.)

    I like to write it all at once, and then mutate it draft after draft. Sometimes sections would change, or the narrative order would change. Occasionally a paper would go through periodic shifts in form (particularly the weaker ones.) My papers were definitely not written at the last minute. They were organic things that grew over long periods of time. Many papers I contributed to in groups WERE written rapidly. But the rapid process was more the preference of my colleagues and mentors, and better suited to experimental papers with obvious conclusions.
     
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  7. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    What's your process for writing a research paper?

    i'm writing one now, so this should be easy =D basically i write up an outline: intro, main points, first, second, third argument, etc. and what i'm proposing as the conclusion. it's MUCH easier to write the whole thing when you've got a plan! something i failed to appreciate a year or two ago.

    How do you plan, research, write, etc.?


    hit the library, or search online for relevant journal articles. i usually skim over any interesting ones, save them, then go over them in detail when i've collected enough (~25 for this one)

    How do you approach research and paper structure?


    i try to make it coherent. a good way is reading it aloud to a friend who's not studying the same thing - if they can grasp the gist of it, it's good to go. otherwise, i revise it again and again.

    How long does it take you on average to write a major research paper?

    used to take me about a week but now i can do a 10 page report in about 6 hours. i'm relying on that efficiency to carry me through this time, haha

    Do you write it all at once or in parts? Do you write at the last minute?

    all at once, & at the last minute!
     
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    #7 TinyBubbles, Aug 28, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  8. OP
    Gaze

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    Sound similar to me. I'd work on structure but i wasn't good on writing, although i'd do a lot of preliminary research - finding the sources, but not getting as much reading done. Should've simply chosen a few sources and read those rather than worry about the other stuff. I think i became so easily overwhelmed by the reading, and worried about not knowing enough to write a good paper, that the paper wasn't as well thought out as it should be. I think one of the major problems i have is that i'm a slow reader. I tend to process things very carefully and deeply. If i read too quickly, i don't remember anything and when there's a ton of stuff to read, it's difficult to know where to start and stop. i'm always tempted to include all the information in can find on a topic in my paper because everything seems important :D. So, i've struggled with research papers quite a bit because of this. But i still want to challenge myself to write a good paper.
     
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    #8 Gaze, Aug 28, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  9. Wyote

    Wyote (#/-\[]$ ([]`/[]'|'[-
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    A month before it's due:
    Go to the library and get some books. Start reading them.

    Two weeks before it's due:
    Realize I forgot about it. Pick up the books again, finish one and do some internet searching.

    A week before it's due:
    Freak out. Finish reading. Gather remaining sources.

    Two days before it's due:
    Freak out a lot. Type up an outline. Re-read what I forgot from weeks ago.

    A day before it's due:
    Really freak out. Spend six-eight hours in front of a computer vomiting words.

    An hour before it's due:
    Realize I can't print it for some god forsaken reason. Almost die from freaking out. Locate a functioning printer and... done.
     
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    #9 Wyote, Aug 28, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  10. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    I know this feeling, believe me. The way I sated the desire to 'connect everything' is that I would 'connect everything' in that first narrative that I considered to be nothing more than my own personal notes. By gratifying that, I could then move on to write my "human language paper" as a separate, smaller document that wasn't designed to complete my model, but instead tell a small story from it. But I was no paper writing master, by any means.
     
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  11. OP
    Gaze

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    seems to be a theme here. :D but i definitely did a lot of freaking out too because of procrastination. I'd work on all-nighters with books all over the place, and staring at the screen trying to get it done at the last minute. Not good i know. But i couldn't do it otherwise. The projects always seem way too big for the time we were given to complete them.
     
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    #11 Gaze, Aug 28, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  12. sassafras

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    If I had a topic in mind, I'd start by hording books or articles on the topic and quickly scan through them. I would jot down points that I found interesting or that repeated themselves from book to book. After I've done that for a while, I'd look over that list and narrow the focus of paper onto the topic that a) had the most material and b) that I felt I could uniquely expand on.

    I'd start with the books that had general information and jot down notes, quotes and book mark bigger passages with color coded stickies. After that, I'd go back and find the more unique information and repeat the process. I kept a meticulous record of my bibliographical information and cited notations, because that made citation so much easier ( and I found that to be the biggest pain in the butt of the whole affair).


    As for the paper structure, it's hard to say. I had a general idea of the outline, but I found that the more meticulous I got with the details of the design, not only did it take me FOREVER to get anything down on paper, but the end product was usually pretty stale. The best structure was always that which would just naturally take shape after I started putting my ideas to paper. I am notorious for editing as I go, adding ideas and insights as they came up, so the whole process was like chiseling out a stone from the quarry. I wouldn't worry about the picture picture until I was completely done.


    It's amazing what one can accomplish when one's ass is on the line. I usually left my papers to the last minute, so it would usually take me a day or two for major papers... although I've been known to pull off 18 page papers in one night.


    All at once. And yeah, last minute, usually.
     
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