How to write a college research paper efficiently.
Of course there are many methods, and everyone needs to develop the way that works the best for them. Sadly I didn't figure mine out until senior year and it was actually a method I learned back in 5th grade before internet research.
Anyway, here is my method:
1. Figure out your topic; I mean, really figure out your topic. Read as much generic information as you can (preferably not the sources you will be using) and figure out if it is focused enough. I wrote a 12 page paper on the influences of ecotourism in the Yucatan peninsula. Hopefully that goes to show how in depth you can get.
2. Figure out what you want to talk about with your topic and outline this. I found that just creating 1 page for each section was the easiest. 1 page for abstract, 1 for background information, 1 for the information that goes against my topic ,1 to prove what I am trying to prove or explain, 1 actual example or historical case that further proves the topic, concluding paragraph. By this point I'm already into 6 potential pages. I like to further break down the point I am trying to explain or prove though into 3 sections. Going into more than that often ends up with too much information and the reader gets lost. But because of this, it basically gives you 8 pages to start.
3. Find all sources. The first complete thing I write is my works sited page. Usually comprised of 5 - 7 sources. I always try to include a book for good measure. Usually this book is acquired from google books. If I hit a section of the book that is off limits, I go to a proxy browser and search the page number and book title in google books and wallah, you have that section. Then I like to incorporate a statistical info sheet. Such as something from the CDC or what ever governmental agency there is involved in what your topic is. The rest of the sources should be scholarly articles. You can usually find these pretty easily by searching your topic with the "pdf" at the end. Try to find one article with a great anecdote that you can paraphrase and use in your favor. Look for another with an opposing idea, the longer the better. The remaining should be what your trying to prove. Any good article will likely also include background or history.
4. Make sure your bibliography is complete. If you need to do insource siting, make an example of what the siting should look like and place it next to the article information.
"bibliography info" (James, 2004) Something like that, so that you can just copy and paste it where ever it goes.
5. Read through each article one by one. Every time you come across a fact or information that you can use, paraphrase it and put it onto the page where it fits. Then copy and past the in source siting information after it. That way, you won't have to go looking for it later on. When things are related to each other, try to place them into a fitting spot on the page.
6. You should then have around 8 pages of incomplete sentences complete with works sited information. The reason for this is to make sure you have all of your data available, and that none of it is plagiarized from your sources. If you dont have 8 mostly filled pages, it may be time to find an additional source.
7. Then it is time to turn all the discombobulated sentences into coherent sentences. I find it easiest to start with the background information, then write the anecdotal portion, followed by the points trying to disprove, and then the points trying to prove. Doing it this way gives you a really great grasp and plenty of preparation to make the supporting section the most powerful. Then write the abstract/introduction informing everything you will be discussing and leading in with restated introductory sentences. Finally write the conclusion. It should be fairly easy with everything else already done.
8. By the time you have all the sentences there, it should easily hit around 3500 words. To proof read, read through it once and make sure it sounds coherent and cohesive. You can do this pretty quickly in that you aren't actually editing it just yet. If a sentence sounds really off, fix it. You can also do some restructuring, but don't worry about commas and all that just yet.
9. Start with the very last sentence of your paper and read each sentence individually and correct each sentence individually. Some professors wont care so much about grammar, if this is the case, you are lucky. But, you should keep in mind that you could potentially use this paper for grad school applications or future writing examples for career opportunities, and therefor, you may want to proofread better.
Keep in mind that this may not be your best method. I do believe it is a great starting point and can be used for nearly any topic. I have used it for everything from entomology classes to political science and never received anything but an A.