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BUILD IT Express: Module 5: Putting It All Together

A short version of the BUILD IT tutorial, with just the essential information.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that you have all our sources, it is time to tackle the actual paper. Exactly how do you go about that?
Tips on this page and the next, OTHER WAYS TO GET HELP, should answer all your questions.
If they don't, be sure to check out all the details in the full module in, PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER in BUILD IT.

THE ART OF TAKING NOTES

Students often skip this step. They print out journal articles and information from the Internet. Then they frantically flip through this pile of paper while balancing a stack of books on their lap. They try to remember where they read this and who said that. There must be a better way! Of course, there is. Carefully taken, organized notes will save you from all that frustration.

Tips for Note Taking

  • Keep a running list of your sources, with complete bibliographic information.
  • Create notecards in NoodleTools as an easy way to keep track of where you found your information.
  • As you take notes, document where you found every bit of information, including page numbers.
  • When you are taking notes, try to use your own words to briefly capture the basic meaning or facts.
  • Copy information word for word only if you are planning to use it as a direct quote. Then clearly mark it as such.
  • Likewise, you can label information paraphrased from a source.
  • You might even want to indicate which notes are your own original thoughts. Otherwise, as time goes on, and you jot down more and more notes, you may forget which is which.
  • Consult your outline often, revise it if you need to, making sure you have research to support all your points.

For more advise on best practices in note-taking, consult
Purdue OWL Safe Practices page

Remember

START WRITING

Now it is time to start writing your paper. If you have done a good job defining your topic, making an outline, locating sources, and taking notes, the writing won't be so bad. However, there are two more steps before you produce that final polished A+ paper. In fact, you should actually have three versions fo your paper:

  GOOD
  (but not good enough)
ROUGH DRAFT GOOD CONTENT
  BETTER
  (but not good enough)
REVISED PAPER GOOD CONTENT
GOOD WRITING
  BEST
  (ready to submit)
PROOFREAD PAPER GOOD CONTENT
GOOD WRITING
NO MISTAKES

THE ROUGH DRAFT

The Rough Draft - A Good Start
You should be familiar enough with your topic, after having done all that research, that you can just follow your outline, refer to your notes, and start writing. Don't worry too much about perfect grammar and polished wording yet. That is what revising is all about, but your
paper should have these three parts:

A good introduction to get the reader's attention and to briefly explain your purpose
The body, where you develop your topic and support it with your research.
A strong conclusion to wrap things up and briefly summarize your position or findings.

REVISING YOUR PAPER

Revising Your Paper - The Makeover

The worst is over. You already have the content, now you just need to clean things up and add the finishing touches. Think of it as a makeover. Check both the content and the writing.

CONTENT WRITING

  Have I clearly stated my purpose?
  Have I stayed on topic?
  Is information presented logically?
  Do my sources support my
     argument?
  Have I cited everything that is not my
     own work or idea?
  Have I accomplished my purpose or
     convincingly defended my position?

  Do I have good paragraph
    transitions?
  Have I checked for sentence 
    fragments and run on sentences 
  Are verb tenses consistent? 
  Are subjects and their verbs in
      agreement?
  Do I have an interesting introduction
      and good conclusion?


Keep working on your paper until you can answer YES to all of the above.

PROOFREADING AND FORMATTING

You are almost there!  Two more steps before your paper is ready to go. The more you proofread, the better your paper gets. You have probably been correcting errors as you revised, but don't depend on this method. You need to get out the fine tooth comb and really concentrate on spelling, grammar, punctuation, and typos.

READ IT ALOUD READ IT SLOWLY READ IT MORE THAN ONCE

Formatting your paper is the final step.  It is time to make it look professional and make sure it conforms to the APA or MLA rules. 

Formatting includes

   Title page
   Headers
   Line spacing
   Pagination
   Font size and style
   Margins

WHAT OTHER RESOURCES ARE THERE?

You might find that you need a little help with the above steps.

Maybe you are not sure how to organize your paper or if your grammar and writing techniques are good enough.

There are many resources out there that can help you with every step of the process.

Go on to OTHER WAYS TO GET HELP.