If you are reading this article, chances are, you are in trouble. Perhaps, you have been procrastinating until the very last minute, or were buried deep under other work, or weren’t able to dedicate your time fully to your writing for some other purpose. The outcome is the same – you are supposed to hand your research paper in tomorrow, and you are still at square one.
You have just one night to begin and complete the essay, so what are you going to do? One thing is for sure – you are not getting any sleep tonight. As for all the rest, we are going to cover it in this article.
How to Write a Research Paper in One Night
If you have an urgent assignment due the tomorrow morning, you will have to work for the whole night. When writing a paper in one night, you will be pressed not just by the lack of time, but by exhaustion and sleepiness as well. All this means that you should pay extra attention not just to the actual writing techniques, but to how you organize the very writing process as well.
- Stock up on healthy snacks for studying. You are going to need some energy to keep you going through the night. Being distracted by hunger isn’t very conducive for the efficient work. At the same time, it isn’t the best idea to take long breaks to have a full-fledged meal, so snacks are the way to go. Nuts are especially recommended – they give plenty of energy without causing a sugar rush that may leave you exhausted after it passes;
- Use the power of caffeine. Whether you like coffee and energy drinks, you need them to keep you awake and aware throughout the night. So get a lot of it. Just make sure to be careful drinking concentrated energy drinks and don’t mix them with prescription drugs;
- Take breaks. It may seem counterintuitive when you need to get a job done as fast as possible, but experience shows us that occasional short breaks more than compensate for the time you ‘lose’ on them. The longer you work, the less efficiently your brain functions. There comes a time when you simply stare at the screen, unable to think about another word to type. Short breaks (preferably combined with bouts of physical exercise) won’t restore your brain to full capacity, but they will still recharge you a little bit and make it easier to go on;
- Keep yourself hydrated. Water is essential for proper functioning of the brain and your energy levels, and caffeinated drinks cannot serve as a replacement. So, get a bottle of water and keep it close at hand;
- Make sure you don’t get distracted. Writing at night has its benefits, as most people are asleep, and there are fewer things in your immediate vicinity to call for your attention. Nevertheless, you should take care to eliminate all the potential distractions, especially those that you know are attractive for you. Turn off your smartphone, disable notifications in social media and email. Even better, use some blocking software like RescueTime to prevent yourself from visiting your favorite websites – you are going to work using the Internet, so these are especially dangerous for your concentration.
5 Preparation Tips to Follow at Night
You have to submit your paper in the morning. This means that you have a very limited amount of time to complete your job. Each minute has to be used to the fullest. This means that some preparation is in order – if you just plunge into writing, at the very best, your paper will be unreadable. At worst, you won’t be able to finish it on time at all.
- Brace yourself for the worst. If you’ve done absolutely no reading on the subject matter of your paper, consider accepting the fact that you won’t be able to hand the paper in tomorrow. Contact your instructor and inform them that your paper will be late. In many ways, it is preferable to simply not handing it in because you weren’t able to complete the job on time. Another alternative is to submit a poorly written paper because it is very likely to be the only thing you can churn out in just 1 night. It is not the end of the world, nor it is an easy way out – it is just a way of cutting your losses when you still have time to do it with dignity;
- Plan your time. As you have very little time, you have to use it to the maximum efficiency. To do so, you have to prepare a plan and stick to it. If you simply sit down and get to work, you will not be able to track your progress and see that, for example, you are taking too long at a certain stage and won’t be able to finish on time if you continue in this fashion. Break your time into 30-minute intervals and evaluate how much of if you need for each task. Try to have at least an hour unassigned to anything because some steps will inevitably take longer than planned.
- Take your time reading the prompt. You are in a hurry, but not reading the prompt attentively can lead to catastrophic results – you may miss some important details (like the need to use a certain number of sources) or misunderstand the question entirely. It is unpleasant enough in normal circumstances, but right now, you cannot afford to find out that the essay you’ve just finished was written using a wrong prompt. Ideally, you should write down the main points of the prompt in your own words so that you can refer to them later on – this way, you can be sure you’ve understood everything correctly;
- Make sure you understand the style and formatting guidelines. Be too quick to read them, and you may realize too late that you’ve gotten things wrong and had to single space your paper and now you have to write as much as you’ve already done, but there is no time to do so;
- Take notes from reliable sources. If you’ve done some reading and have at least a basic acquaintance with the topic, organize the books and sources you have. Skim over them and make notes, marking down fragments you want to cite.
6 Writing Tips to Prepare a Well-Written Paper
Writing an urgent paper isn’t much different from writing when you have all the time in the world – you just have to work fast and don’t have the right to make any mistakes. This means that you should carefully divide your work into stages and avoid dispersing your attention. Do one thing at a time, never getting distracted either by things outside your job or by other stages.
#1. Don’t even consider plagiarizing. We live in times when even middle school English teachers use plagiarism checkers when looking through the works of their students. In most cases, plagiarism is immediately obvious even without specialized software, but even if it isn’t, any checker will immediately spot your attempt at copy/paste. You will get caught and some consequences of plagiarism are possible. At the very best, it will get on your record. At worst, you will be expelled;
#2. Think about a thesis statement. This is a key to any successful paper. Without a clear, concise and definite thesis statement, an assignment risks turning out to be weak, unfocused, and vague. Think about the main argument you make in your paper and try to formulate it in a single sentence. If you have problems doing this, it means that you haven’t fully understood what is required of you. Therefore, you have to spend some time clarifying your point. After you manage to create a thesis statement, write it down on a separate sheet of paper. Keep it in front of you at all times so that you don’t stray away from your primary topic;
#3. Do a short brainstorming session. Write down any ideas that can help you support your argument. This is a good time to start marking down the quotes and references you are going to make. Write down everything that comes into your head – don’t try to separate good ideas from bad ones at this point, you don’t have to use everything you come up with right now;
#4. Prepare an outline, i.e., a detailed plan for your paper. It should include, in short form, everything you intend to write in every part of your essay: how you introduce the topic, your thesis statement, points to be mentioned in each paragraph along with the accompanying supporting evidence, how you want to sum things up in the conclusion, and so on. A well-written outline means that when it comes to writing per se, you will simply have to elaborate on each point to get a full-fledged paper;
#5. Be concise. Whether you have a word count to fill in or not, padding your text won’t help you. If you simply have to drive your point home, you don’t have time for long-winded phrases. If you have to achieve a certain word count, your instructor will immediately spot your attempts at bloating your paper with filler, which can lead to a worse grade than you can receive if you write your college assignment properly. Short and simple sentences aren’t a sign of low intelligence – if you successfully express your thoughts, it is the sign of thinking that cuts to the chase and eliminates unnecessary details;
#6. Proofread. Don’t treat proofreading as something that you will do if you have some time and energy left after you’ve finished with the “real work”. Proofreading is just as a real work as gathering sources and writing, especially if you write in such a hurry. When you have a few hours to complete a paper, you are bound to make mistakes that can seriously decrease your chances of getting a good grade. Ideally, you should let your paper lie a little bit before you start proofreading it. Obviously, this is not the situation when it is possible, so use whatever time is left to do it. Check your formatting for compliance with college guidelines and your assigned formatting style. Check your style – if you find colloquialisms, jargon or slang, eliminate it. Avoid passive voice – in most cases, it makes speech lifeless and hard to read.
We hope these tips will help you deal with your situation right now and emerge from this crisis with flying colors. And perhaps, the memory of this experience will be enough to prevent you from procrastinating the next time you have to write an important assignment!