Research Paper Planner: Timeline

Below are the 11 steps most commonly found in essay, research paper, and thesis assignments. Each step has a due date for completion but is also a link to our guide on that step's topic. The guide has links to resources at Baylor and other colleges and universities that will help you as you work to complete each of the steps. We hope you find these useful.
Starting on:10/22/2014
Ending on:11/30/2014
According to the dates you have entered,
you have 38 days to finish.

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Step 1

By Thu Oct 23, 2014: Understand the assignment (3% of your time)
The first step to successfully completing an essay, paper, or thesis is to read and understand the assignment. The material here will help you clarify what it is you are being asked to do.

Step 2

By Fri Oct 24, 2014: Select and focus topic (3% of your time)
Now that you have carefully read and understood your assignment, you can concentrate on choosing a topic and focusing on what aspect(s) about this topic will be the basis of your paper.

Step 3

By Sat Oct 25, 2014: Explore a research question (3% of your time)
A research question (a preliminary thesis statement) is a declaration of purpose that indicates what it is you intend to explore and discuss in your paper. Resources linked here will help you plan the foundation of your research you explore your research question and build a foundation for your research strategy.

Step 4

By Mon Oct 27, 2014: Design your research strategy (3% of your time)
When you have formulated your research question and have a clear idea of what you are hoping to research, you are ready to begin the search for bibliographic resources. A research strategy is an organized 'plan of attack' for consulting gathering your resources; and the tools linked here will help you stay organized.

Step 5

By Fri Oct 31, 2014: Finding sources on your topic (12% of your time)
You will need a variety of sources to help you form and document the argument or proposal you will make in your paper. These sources can be books, articles in popular magazines or scholarly journals, and (occasionally) web sites. The resources in this section will help you decide what type of source you need and where to look for the best resources to meet the needs of your assignment. This step may need to be repeated as your continue to work on your topic – this repetition is a normal part of the research process, not a sign of any failure on your part.

This is the point where you will want to find a way to keep track of your sources so you can cite them well in later steps. Consider signing up for a ZOTERO WORKSHOP to learn how this time-saving tool can help with bibliographies, footnotes, and citations.

Step 6

By Sun Nov 09, 2014: Read, Note, and Compare Sources (22% of your time)
Your next step is to read, take notes on, and compare the information in your sources. Which sources agree with one another and which ones don’t? Which help you build your argument and which ones suggest other approaches or methods you may need to consider or refute. You may need to analyse the methods of a study in order to better understand its results. The materials in this section will help you read more critically, take effective notes, and learn how to organize and compare your sources.

Step 7

By Wed Nov 12, 2014: Write thesis statement (8% of your time)
Your thesis statement is the cornerstone of your paper and is based on the reading and analysis you've done so far. Resources here will help you craft a sound and defensible thesis statement. Be aware that you may need to (or be asked to) revise it at a later date.
Outlining your paper serves two functions: 1) It allows you map out your arguments in a logical fashion and 2) breaks down your paper into smaller sections to write so that you don't get overwhelmed. If you need help planning and creating an outline the material in this section will help you accomplish this task.

Step 8

By Tue Nov 18, 2014: Writing the First Draft (15% of your time)
Many students dread writing the first draft. Actually putting pen to paper (or more likely fingers to the keyboard) is the step that most students keep putting off. The link in this section will help you tackle the first draft and dispel any anxieties that you have about starting the writing process. There are also videos of writers talking about writer’s block and how they get around it.
Once you have a first draft ready you might want to contact the The Writing Center and set up an appointment to discuss your draft with one of their consultants. The Writing Center is run by the English Department and they can help you with grammar, organization, and MLA citation style.

Step 9

By Wed Nov 19, 2014: Evaluate Your First Draft (5% of your time)
How do you know if you are stating an opinion or supporting your facts? Have you represented both or all sides fairly? Your instructor may have asked you to find “better” or “more scholarly” sources. The resources here will help you avoid common pitfalls in writing essays and papers.

Step 10

By Thu Nov 27, 2014: Revise & rewrite (20% of your time)
Your first draft was just the beginning of the writing process. Subsequent revisions are always needed. If you doubt this statement take a look at the two links in this section and you will be convinced that revisions are essential and you will learn some valuable ways to produce a great revision.

Step 11

By Sat Nov 29, 2014: Put Your Paper in Final Form (5% of your time)
Citing your information resources properly is a very important step in the research paper process. Proper citation helps guard against plagiarism, points your readers back to the original sources where you found your information, and helps to contribute to the scholarly conversation that takes place in academia.


Based on the original Assignment Calculator from the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Rev. 8/2015, EMB