How can I avoid going “down the rabbit hole” when writing a research paper?

Answer by Candace Vianna:

One of the nice things about academic writing is it follows a standard format. I don’t know what grade-level you are writing too but I’m assuming it’s high school/secondary school or higher.

Your instructor should have given you a rubric detailing all the elements needed to satisfy the assignment. If he/she didn’t you should ask for clarification on exactly what is needed. (e.g. a table of contents, end-notes or footnotes, citations, number and what kinds of sources are acceptable, APA or MLA )

One of the biggest problems the students I tutored had, was they didn’t do what was asked.

So pull out that rubric and fire up your word-processor. If you’re using MS Word setting up research papers is a snap. Go to outline view and using the rubric set up a section for each of the required elements. Also add a section research notes section. This is where you’ll stick all those handy examples, facts and quotations (along with the citation information) you’re going to use to support your arguments.

Standard academic writing format usually goes something like this—check your rubric for the specifics:
 Title page.
Abstract/Thesis statement (What you’re papers about and why I should care. It controls the content of the entire paper.)
Body (Paragraphs containing in this order: an opening transition, topic sentence, evidence and wrap-up… these are where the rabbit-holes hide. If it doesn’t support the paragraph’s topic sentence, it doesn’t belong there. Additionally, there should be at least one paragraph addressing each point  in the abstract, in the same order it appears)
Conclusion (this is your wrap-up, reaffirm the points in your opening statements.)
Endnotes. (additional information related to, but not in the body paragraphs)
I hope this helps…. Good luck.

How can I avoid going “down the rabbit hole” when writing a research paper?

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