10 Steps to Writing a Research Paper in 5 Days

These steps do not need to be completed all at once (or even at all if you feel you’re all set in the rough draft department). Space them out over the next five days. If you sit down for about one hour a day between now and then, you will have ample time to write an engaging and effective rough draft.

Day 1

1. Write a tentative thesis statement that meets the following criteria:

Narrows your subject to an appropriate scope

Claims something specific and significant

Conveys your purpose

Offers a debatable point of view

2. Sit down for 30 minutes. Spend 10 minutes each on three of the following prewriting exercises:





Asking Questions

Journal Writing

Day 2

3. Spend 30 minutes searching through the online library to identify four more sources. Print them out. At this point, you should have at least 8-10 sources at your disposal.

4. Sit down for one hour. Read through your sources and for each, write a three-sentence summary and identify three quotes you could use.

Day 3

5. Sit down for 30 minutes. Write a 2-page informal letter to a friend, teacher, or other recipient (it won’t be sent), telling them what you know about your topic, what your position is, and why. Do not spend time on grammar or organization at this point – just write complete sentences. When done, put the letter aside.

6. Choose your four favorite sources. Develop a prompt for your topic similar to those used for in-class essays. For example:

In the near future, it is possible that robotics will replace many jobs that are currently held by humans. In his articles “Robots Prepare for the Battlefield by First Fighting City Traffic” and “Robot-Assisted Rescuers Seek Answer in Wake of Utah,” Larry Greenemeier describes how robots are being used to complete tasks that are too difficult or dangerous for humans. It is also feasible that robots will substitute for other humans in social relationships. In the article “Could Robots Become Your Toddler’s New Best Friend?” Nikhil Swaminathan relates the details of an experiment where toddlers befriended a robot and treated it like another child. Robert Epstein, in his article “My Date with a Robot,” shares his own experience of dating Repliee Q1expo, a humanlike robot.

Write an essay in which you compare the robot/human relationships each author describes, making sure to summarize each article briefly before quoting from it. Develop a thesis in which you put forth your views as to what extent you believe robots can replace humans in various facets of life, such as labor and social relationships. Support your argument with reference to all four essays, outside texts (books, films, television, news, etc.), and/or examples from your own experience.

Day 4

7. Sit down for one hour and respond to the prompt you have written, exactly as you would during an in-class essay. (Later, revise your response to submit as the synthesis essay assignment due on Tuesday.)

8. Read over the letter you wrote in step 5 and the prompt response you wrote in step 7. Imagine you have been asked to break down your topic into four smaller two-page sections. Create evocative titles for each section. For example:

Robots: Friend or Foe?

Crash Test Dummies Exist for a Reason

After Dinner, A Robot Does the Dishes

What Would I Be Able to Do Instead if a Robot Could Write This Essay?

Put the titles aside.

Day 5

9. Write an outline to determine the best way to organize your essay. Do not use the titled sections yet. Try to get by without them at first to see if you can.

10. Put your prewriting, the source summaries and quotes, the letter, and the synthesis essay into one document. Move the text around using cut and paste until all usable text has been organized following the outline. Fill in the blanks so that all outline points are addressed and the document reads like the rough draft of an essay. Edit for grammar and flair. Proofread and let go!


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