How to Write a Paper When You're Short on Time

We've all been here, you are so focused on other things (family, life, other school subjects and projects) that you forget you have a paper due in one or two days and all of a sudden you are panicking and don't know what to do. With finals around the corner, I'm sure this post may have just reminded some of you that you have a paper due soon! 

I've been there (so so many times) and so I'm going to explain how I manage to write papers on a (very short) deadline that typically require some amount of research. 

  1. Know what your paper is supposed to be about. This can take anywhere from no time to an hour or two to figure out your subject and write a short outline detailing how you want to prove your point or hypothesis. This, besides actually writing your paper may take the most time.
  2. Flesh out your outline and find key words. I do this by essentially structuring each point I want to make and finding the key terms that I know will have some sort of information on this subject and could help me make my point. For instance if I wanted to prove that climate change was real as one of my arguments for a paper, some of the keywords I would assign are "climate change" "global warming" "proof" "peer reviewed". 
  3. Do a google scholar or library search for the keywords in each bullet point and download the articles as .pdfs so that you can search for them later. This is helpful when I attempt to just pull together as many sources as I can in one go.
  4. While writing your paper, go through each of your sources using ctl+f to find the points in each article that correspond with your argument. You can use the keywords you came up with in #2 to search the article, but the more specific you try and make your argument and the keywords you use, the easier it will be to pull together the citations and validation for your paper. 
  5. Be sure to cite whenever you quote or paraphrase in your paper (at the very least include the article title or link in () after you use it so that you can find it later. 
  6. Repeat 4,5 until you have completed all of your bullet points on the paper. This should take several hours to write if you are quick about it. 
  7. Edit. This means that you should read through your paper for clarity, adding anything in your paper that's missing that could solidify your argument. 
  8. Properly format and cite your paper. Purdue OWL is a good source for formatting a paper and Citation Machine is good for quick citations. 
  9. Read through your paper again from the beginning. I like to read my paper out loud, it helps to find semantic mistakes in your writing as well as grammatical. 
  10. Submit. Print at least one copy before you submit (online or in person) and go over your paper one last time to make sure everything is correct. This also helps in case your printer isn't working and you know before hand.