Conversing with someone else about your research and writing process can be incredibly helpful. Contact staff at McKillop Library or the Writing Center using the links below.
Many students and researchers struggle with identifying when they are done with research and when they are done with writing. There are numerous causes for this confusion. Some people become so interested and invested in your topic that they're unable to determine when they have researched and included everything that needs to be included. Others become so overwhelmed with the process that they can't tell if they've sufficiently built up their argument, explained everything that's necessary, or met the requirements of the research project.
If you find yourself struggling to tell if you're done as you complete the research and writing segments of your projects, try doing the following:
1. Step away from your project for 24 hours (this is why it's good to start your research and writing early!). Giving yourself a break from research and writing will allow you to approach your work with a fresh set of eyes to see if your processes have been effective or if you need to adapt them.
2. Talk through your research or paper with a friend, classmate, or professor. Getting someone else's perspective on your research and writing can help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your work.
3. Check out the checklists below, which are good starting points for identifying if you've completed your work. If your answer is "yes" to the questions--you're right on track!
1. Have you identified the main arguments and issues regarding your topic? Have you explored multiple perspectives on your topic and identified the key thinkers?
2. Are you finding the same information in multiple sources that are credible?
3. Have you utilized relevant and reliable information from different types of sources (e.g. books, scholarly articles, government publications, magazine articles, newspaper articles)? Do your included sources meet the requirements of your assignment?
4. Would adding a new angle or subtopic complicate or confuse your argument rather than strengthening it?
5. Are you starting to pursue and collect information that doesn't directly relate to your topic?
6. Are you running out of time to write or complete your project? *Note that this question does not apply if you have waited until the last minute to research and complete your assignment.
7. Have you included enough information to answer your research question and support your thesis statement?
1. Does your paper fulfill the requirements of your assignment? Is it in the proper format?
2. Do you have a thesis statement? Does it reflect an appropriate scope for the size your research project (neither too broad nor too narrow)?
3. Is your paper well-organized? Do the paragraphs flow logically and smoothly?
4. Is your argument well-developed? Do you offer sufficient support through examples, quotations, and details?
5. Does all the information you've included relate to your research question and thesis? Is it all necessary?
6. Is your tone appropriate for the assignment? Are you writing to the proper audience (e.g. professor, classmates)?
7. Have you used correct citations in the citation style that your professor requires? Have you made it clear which ideas are yours and which you have used or built on from your sources?
8. Does your paper have a strong conclusion that relates back to your thesis?
9. Have you proofread your paper, looking for problems in spelling and grammar? *Tip: Try to complete your rough draft with enough time to step away from your paper for a day or two and then come back to it. When you do come back to it, read your paper aloud to help catch missed or extraneous commas and semi-colons, extra unneeded words, and problems in clarity.