About Planning, Research, and Editing: The Keys to Basic Writing Skills


Once again you find yourself at the computer screen typing and deleting the only four lines that you could scratch out of your head for over five hours. The problem maybe writer's block but the real culprit is probably procrastination. This last-minute-approach to writing leads some people to believe that they are not great writers, which leads to avoiding the assignment until the very last minute. This idea that great research writers are born not made is false and it is a myth that keeps people who struggle with writing from ever trying to learn. However, the key to great and custom writing, whether it is a simple book report or a dissertation, is planning and organization, researching and using resources, and finally, proofreading and editing the paper.

The most important key to writing a custom essay or term paper is planning. The assignment will require extra time depending on the directions and the type of paper. For example, a simple book report will require reading a book and underlining passages appropriate to the book. This assignment may take up to a month depending on the type of book and the length of the assignment. On the other hand, a dissertation requires several months and sometimes even years to complete, as research in addition to the actual writing is necessary. An important part of planning is developing an outline to provide organization for your term or research paper. Your outline is the road map that helps you stay on the path of direction and focus in your paper. Without an outline, many papers become unfocused and difficult to read. Nonetheless, with enough time and organization, a person will have the opportunity to research sources and provide citations in the text if necessary and he/she will have time to proofread and edit.

Research is integral to developing any custom written term paper, research paper, master's thesis, or dissertation. To really write an excellent paper, you should really have an understanding of what exactly the assignment is asking. This clarity will make it a lot easier to research information on the topic. When researching, you must be clear about two types of sources: primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are those that you will directly incorporate into the work, and secondary sources are those that are used to give you background material. Once you have decided what types of sources are necessary for your custom reseach paper or essay, there are several options available to finding information. The most obvious source of information is the library. In the library, you have a number of resources available to you like the library catalogs and the electronic databases. The library catalogs will help you find journal, periodicals, reference material, and books related to your topic. If you find information from these sources, you can check them out with a library card. Then, the electronic databases are great because, not only can you use them at the library, but you can also use many of them from home. Some of the really good databases are Ebscohost, which contains professional trade and journal articles, and Proquest, which contains newspaper articles. However, to use both of these resources you must have a library card.

Once you have your library card and research in hand, knowing how to place the research within your paper is very important, as you want to avoid plagiarism. There are three instances when you MUST attribute information to the source. First, you must, when copying material from the source, indicate with quotation marks and parenthetical citation where the source came from. Second, when you paraphrase - which is part quote-part summary - you must also include parenthetical citations at the end of the sentence. And finally you must absolutely remember to include a parenthetical citation when summarizing someone else's ideas. Even though they maybe your own words, the idea still belongs to the source and without the citation you have committed plagiarism. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to copy text from a source - online or offline - and paste it into your paper without properly giving credit to the owner whose ideas you borrowed. It is additionally important to remember that, although most books in the library are reputable sources and are the best resources, online sources should be scrutinized to make sure they are reliable. A good rule of thumb would be to only borrow information that comes from government sites, educational institutions, reputable magazines and news journals, and research organizations. Also, it is always a great idea to check with the instructor so that you know what kind of sources they would prefer you use.

Finally, so that your paper reads well, you should always give yourself enough time to complete three drafts. The first draft of your essay can be to correct errors in structure and organization. Do my paragraphs match my thesis statement? Does the supporting detail in my paper bolster my topic sentences? Is the paper clearly understood? If possible, you should always try to find a second set of eyes to read the paper to make sure it is as clear to others as it is to you. Your second draft will concentrate on grammatical errors. One piece of advice would be to learn grammar rules because although grammar check is employed on many computers it does not check for everything. Your third draft is just clean up any missed material not picked up in the first two drafts.

In all, given enough planning, anyone can custom write an "A" essay or term paper with ease and without all of the anxiety that many last minute writers feel when they have a ten-page paper due the next morning. Planning, researching, and editing are all successful tools in the developing skills to write not only for class but also for other parts of life. Once these skills are learned, the once apprehensive student will become the confident writer.

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