Writing a Research Paper: 4 More Pitfalls To Help Him Avoid – Part 2

photo-1423592707957-3b212afa6733This is the second part of a blog tackling that sticky task: writing a research paper for English, science, or history. Here’s some common pitfalls your teen can fall into and how you can help:

He fails to paraphrase enough. He must take the info he’s read and put it in his own words. Yes, this could mean taking a sentence from a book and changing half the words in it. Just remind him to be careful with that, as Turnitin.com catches plagiarized work.

Better is to take actual separate notes on what he has read, putting them into his own words as he writes. That way he avoids any grey area, digests the info fully and learns how to be a better writer. This is more time consuming, so he’ll have to plan accordingly. Check out this link on how to paraphrase.

She skimps on re-reading the paper for errors. Classic oversight for some students! They’re thrilled the final draft is done, figure they caught stuff as they were writing it and want to move on and hand the thing in. Bad idea.

Help her to sit down and give it one last, slow read through – outloud if that helps. Careless grammatical errors or mistakes with autocorrect chip away at a grade. These are silly things she can catch – help her catch them.

He doesn’t get enough teacher help or guidance. He should not be shy in seeking teacher feedback as he goes. Most teachers will give feedback each step of the way – if she doesn’t, or the feedback (or handwriting) is confusing urge him to set up a conference and take notes on whatever she says. Knowing why his thesis is off track or learning how to adjust a wandering, repetitive paragraph is very important and usually the teacher is the best source for this kind of feedback.

Her formatting is faulty. This means general paper formatting, bibliography and citations. Most teachers are sticklers for these nit picky sorts of things. For example, a paper often needs to have a minimum length and a teacher will know if you teen messes with the font, margins and header/footer (the rubric should list rules on these).

The formatting for a bibliography is very specific – down to the period. Feeding each source into site forms like easybib or bibme can help keep things precise. If she wants to type them herself, OWL has a very detailed list for how to format each type of source.

It’s also important that she knows the rules for citations in the paper and follows them. And knowing what to cite in a research paper can be tricky – it needs to be quotes plus the stuff that isn’t common knowledge. Doing that without having a footnote after every sentence while still covering her bases is a balancing act.

Check out Part 1 of this blog post


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