Step 7 - Write First Draft
You have now completed the necessary research to begin writing your paper. As you are working your way through Steps 1-6 it is important to take accurate notes, as this will save you time in the writing process. In addition, it is important to understand how to document the sources you are locating so you can properly cite them. We will go over the concept of "common knowledge" and how it relates to citing sources.
Several places on campus offer assistance to help you through the writing process.
The Writing Center offers different ways to help you through all stages of writing. They provide group peer-tutoring, one-on-one walk in assistance with feedback and tools to improve your writing, as well as the option to submit your papers for review online.
The Learning Center offers workshops that can help you throughout the writing process. These include time management, help with organization and study skills, as well as APA and MLA citation assistance.
Accurate Note Taking
Before beginning to write your paper, it is important to take accurate notes on your research. There is no one way to take excellent notes. Instead, personalize the process in a way that works for you.
Here are some examples of ways to take notes:
- Note cards: one idea per card - can include a direct quote and/or your opinion on a topic. Include the authors last name and the page number, then these note cards can be shuffled around to create an outline
- Adding post-its to a spot on a page that includes an important idea or quote
- A separate notebook: designated for a particular project
- Word processing: if you are more comfortable typing, you can copy and paste direct quotes and quickly create an outline
- Highlighters or color pens can color code different ideas differentiate others ideas from your own.
- Online notebook applications - online notebook applications that let you save your notes in an organized way for later use.
Tips for Accuracy
- Always note where you found your information so you can properly cite the sources later in your paper.
- Authors cite other authors within their research. Be sure you know who is responsible for what you are citing.
- Put quotation marks ("...") around direct quotes.
- Try to keep all of your original research throughout your writing process in case you need the information later.
Contact the Reference Librarian if you need any additional help.
Citing a source used for your paper documents that you found someone else's ideas valuable. This gives credit for original thought and actually strengthens your paper because it shows that you have done the research and are utilizing ideas from others.
If you knew a piece of information before you started doing research, generally you do not need to credit it. You also do not need to cite well-known facts such as dates. All other information such as quotations, statistics, and ideas should be cited in your paper.
Formats for citing (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) are consistent so that other researchers can quickly identify and easily locate the sources you used. Each format has its own style manual. Your instructor will probably recommend a particular style manual to use for your paper. Step 10 will go into more detail on citation styles.
There are two places in your paper that you must give documentation. One is In-text when you talk about or quote from your research. The second is at the end of the paper in a Works Cited or References or Bibliography page.
There are three main styles you can use to properly document sources within the text of your paper. Here are three real life examples of the most popular citation styles:
- MLA This is an example of a paper written in MLA format with in-text citations and a works cited page.
- APA This is an example of a paper written in APA format including in-text citations and a references page
- Chicago Manuscript Style is an example of a paper written in CMS format including in-text citations and a notes page.
"Citation style examples were gathered from the official website of Diana Hacker Handbooks"
Become familiar with the citation style you will need for your paper.
Essential information for citing a source
- Author or Editors full name
- Title of book or article
- Date of publication or the copyright date.
- Any authors found within the research in which you have used their ideas.
- Page numbers.
- If it is a journal article journal name, the volume and issue of the article
- Book - publisher's name
- Website the url address
The more information the better while taking these notes. If you need any clarification on what these items are or where to locate them the reference librarian can help.
Here are some other things to think about while working on your paper and citing sources:
- If you use a direct quote from your research, the author's name and citation need to be in the same sentence as the direct quote.
- Use either quotation marks (" ") or block quotes.
Refer to the particular citation style (MLA, APA, or Chicago) you are using to find when or how to use block quotes.
- After every quote you should always explain how the quote pertains to your paper.
- Be careful not to use too many quotes. Having too many quotes weakens a paper and shows your audience that you lack an opinion. Reduce the length of the quote to just the essential information.
- A writer uses ellipses (...) before or after the important part of the sentence to shorten it.
Paraphrasing the Research
Paraphrasing an idea requires a writer to not only change the words but also the structure of the sentence.
The author’s name needs to be attached somewhere within the idea you are writing about. Place it somewhere within the idea as part of the sentence or at the end of the sentence or paragraph.
If you find one or more words in the sentence you are paraphrasing to be important enough to quote you can always use both techniques.
Common Knowledge is information that is known and accepted within a particular social or academic community. Ask yourself:
- Is it information you have known for quite some time now but do not know where it originated from?
- Is it information that has been used in five different sources and none of them have been cited as to who originally wrote it?
- Is it a general piece of information from an encyclopedia?
Some examples of Common Knowledge:
- The date of the attack of the World Trade Center and Pentagon in NYC
- Jean Piaget’s developmental stages cited in a psychology or educational paper
- The birth date of George W. Bush
Common knowledge does not need to be cited within your paper, but if you are not sure ***always cite the source. Also, even if it is common knowledge but you use a direct quote, you must cite the source.