When should I start writing a research paper?

Research paper writing is a skill that is learned over time, requiring time, research, and attention to detail. One of the biggest components of this process, is allowing yourself adequate time to complete this task, including collecting relevant information, presenting a topic for review, and ensuring that you have adequate sources and materials to support your main points. These five steps should help you navigate and time the writing of your paper.

· Examine your syllabus or class structure
Many teachers will outline their research paper process and recommendations at the beginning of class, often outlining their recommendations in written form, for your convenience. This information might be shared over the first day of class or in preliminary class documents. Trust what has been shared, and work according to the timeline and guidelines offered.

· Utilize your best resource- the teacher
If you are unable to find appropriate or adequate resources in the materials given, check with a peer to ensure that they have the same materials and information you have been given. If you're still left with questions, asking for help, guidance or clarification is generally always welcomed, especially early in the process. You should be looking for details such as when a topic must be presented, length of paper, and if there are expectations for submitted drafts or early versions of the paper, before the final work is due.

· Collect information throughout the course
Pay attention to topics covered, and note what might interest you, especially early on. These topics can prove helpful when deciding about a future paper subject, and paying close attention to areas of interest, can help direct your later research. One might also connect with peers or students who have previously completed a class, in order to learn of any tips or tricks they might offer when writing a research paper for the class you are in.

· Know your strengths
One of the biggest setbacks one might experience is the process of learning to write, learning to research, or learning to any kind of new skill, when it's down to the wire. As you examine and map out your writing and researching process, know what areas will be useful, and what will be challenging for you, as a student. Taking an inventory of your strengths will give you an awareness of what needs your additional focus, and what elements might be skipped. Previous feedback from other papers can be beneficial in these ways.

Build in time
Ultimately, time management will be your biggest tool in writing a research paper. Measure out the necessary progress steps, and build a schedule around the strengths that you possess, while understanding your weaknesses. Many have found great success when building soft deadlines for drafts, extra time for revisions, and wiggle room for breaks in between work. Take time to ensure you have correct information, and that you've given yourself time to review the areas where you might need additional support. Refreshed minds and new eyes can significantly impact a work for the better, and your grades will thank you.