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How to Write a Research Paper

A general process for writing a research paper at the college level.

Step 9

Lazy college senior meme. Rough Draft? Final draft
[Lazy college senior (meme)]. Retrieved from and modified using

Write a Rough Draft

Many students hear "rough draft" and they think "final draft." Let me assure you, this is not a good idea. A rough draft is you putting ideas to paper in a semi-logical order that might actually get a D.

A rough draft gives you the opportunity to screw up and fix it before you hand in a paper that sucks. Take that opportunity. The fact that your paper sucks at this point is a good thing. It puts less pressure on you, and you can just let ideas flow. Use it to make your paper better. This means yes, you will actually have to write a rough draft.

But instead of being upset about it, use it as a springboard to a better paper. The rough draft could show you where some holes exist in your research. Just because you're writing a rough draft doesn't mean you're done researching!

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