If you have to write a paper, there are a couple of tricks I know about (and have often used myself) that will help make the process much easier for yourself.
When you have to write a summary, take each paragraph separately. Don’t read the whole article and then start writing. Have a Word document open at the same time that you are trying to get the main ideas of the article. Read the first paragraph. Then write a line or two that sum up the main idea of that paragraph. Then once that paragraph is done, you do not need to worry about it anymore. Do each paragraph this way until you get to the end of the article.
How long should each paragraph summary be? See how many words your paper has to be. Let’s say it’s 1,000 words. Then see how many paragraphs in total you will be discussing. Divide the first number by the second number. So if you are going to have 100 paragraphs, that means for each paragraph you summarize, you have to use 10 words for each paragraph. Then it will be a very balanced summary. But if a paragraph basically repeats the same information as an earlier paragraph (and this happens a lot), then you do not need to worry about the repeating the same information yourself.
Keep in mind that all papers that you have to write are mainly summaries of others’ work that you have written, mixed in with your own personal opinion. This personal opinion is considered analysis. Professors do not want you to just summarize. They also want you to think critically about the paper that you are writing. There should be a mixture of critique (analysis) and summarizing others’ ideas. Put your personal opinion. Then back it up with a reference to an article that you have summarized. Then repeat your personal opinion. It’s easy once you know and understand how to do it.
Here is a trick that will help you organize your references much easier and make sure that you do not forget to cite something. Every time you have read an article, immediately add it to your bibliography. Then you don’t need to worry about it later. Figure out which style you are going to use. Then just quickly write down all of the information you need for that reference.
In addition to summary and analysis, professors also want to grade you on how well you can make connections between different articles that you research for your paper. For example, you can take advantage of the very useful keyboard shortcut, ctrl f, for this trick. Let’s say you are writing a paper on the Illuminati. A keyword that you might use is Bildenburg. So you ctrl f Bildenburg (hold down ctrl and f keys at the same time) so that you get all times when that word is used. You do the same for other articles. This is a good way of organizing your paper. There should be a few themes that you use. One theme could be Bildenburg. So that paragraph should contain three references to that word. Let’s say you have to use 9 references for your paper, according to your professor. Each of your 3 main paragraphs (other than your introduction and conclusion) should be on one of the 3 themes in your paper (3 multiplied by 3 is 9). If one of the themes is Bildenburg, then one paragraph should have 3 references to that word. So you ctrl f for Bildenburg for each of the 3 articles you are using for that particular subject. Then for the other 2 paragraphs, you do the same thing, but with a different theme. So in writing your paper about the Illuminati, you use 3 themes to make your point. One is Bildenburg, and you have 2 others. This means that you are basically arguing 3 points to prove your main point about the Illuminati.
If you like this article, but have questions about any part of it, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me using the form at the bottom of this page or any page on my website. Good luck with your papers, midterms, and exams!
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