Simple Tricks to Write Faster and Smarter Research Papers

For many students, writing research papers can be stressful. It’s enough work just to think of something to write about, but actually finding evidence to back up a thesis is a rigorous battle that can turn into a nightmare without the proper foresight and planning.

It takes a lot of determination, hard work and wit to earn an “A,” but that doesn’t mean all research writing has to involve a 48 hour cram session fueled by Mountain Dew and Doritos.

Everyone gets stuck in the writing process from time to time, so here are a few tricks that help students write faster, more efficiently and sometimes even sound a little smarter.

3 Writing Tricks for Research Papers

Start Early

It’s not fun to write a whole research paper in one sitting. In fact, it’s a horrible idea. You might think that racing against the clock provides some much needed motivation to finish a paper, but the reality is you’ll just be forcing words on a page.

Instead of trying to do everything at once, one way to get ideas for research papers is to start with an outline. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it should follow a simple format:

• Thesis – the main point you’re trying to convey
• Body – three or four points of evidence
• Conclusion – state why all of your evidence supports your thesis

Some writers use this outline as a check-off sheet, and mark off each bullet point while they write. It doesn’t matter how you use it, but creating an outline is a great way to organize your thoughts and stay on track when it’s time to start writing.

Turn a Brainstorm into a Brain Hurricane

It sounds cliché, but when you’re stuck on an idea and don’t know what to write, you have to keep writing. Some people call it sprinting. Others call it a free write. The bottom line is to put all of your ideas out there and sift through the good ones later.

Any idea that comes to your head. Just keep writing. Don’t think. Forgot a period? Who cares? Just keep writing. Even when you don’t know what to write, keep your fingers cracking those keys.

It might take a few minutes, and you’re probably going to write some ideas that smell worse than Taco Bell gone bad, but you should be able to push through and find a hidden gem.

Call on Your Friendly Word Dinosaur

Even when you know what to write, sometimes the hardest part about writing a research paper is putting all the right words in just the right order. Whenever you have trouble finding the best word to use, or when you need to take three words and turn it into one fancy word, reach out for your thesaurus.

Less widely used compared to a dictionary, the thesaurus is the best tool for finding synonyms (words with a similar definition) or antonyms (words with a contrasting definition). While you might not know it, you probably have access to an amazing thesaurus on your home computer. Using Microsoft Word, highlight a word in a new document and use the hotkey Shift+F7 or hold ALT+click to open the thesaurus tool inside the Research Task Pane.

In fact, it’s always good to have a thesaurus or dictionary nearby. Whenever you read or hear a word you don’t know, make it a point to find out what it means.

Remember, writing a research paper shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. If you can maintain time management, creativity and determination, you’ll finish your paper in no time. Have fun!

Doug A. works with the team at the, which uses examples to help teach students how to format and compose research papers, term papers and essays.