How a Second Year Political Science Student Now Approaches Essays Differently

I think most freshmen approach writing their first university research papers as a challenging experience, unless they are absolutely positive their research and writing skills are at the university level. However, over-confident students run the severe risk of underestimating expectations and doing poorly.

When the time came to write my first Political Science essay, I knew what my problem areas were: I didn’t do all the readings, didn’t have confidence in my research methods, didn’t like my research, and didn’t know how to cite in Chicago style. Not good.

Fast-forward to today. I did well on that essay; however, I could have done much better had I followed these tips I learned through my experience:

  1. Get to the point and use concise language. Nothing screams insecure writer like never getting to the point.
  2. Don’t repeat your lecture material. The point of a research paper is to do research!
  3. Ensure your citations are on point, or risk being accused of plagiarism.
  4. Don’t get tunnel vision while researching. Keep your thesis in mind by maintaining a simple outline to avoid getting overwhelmed by irrelevant research.
  5. Talk to your TA during office hours. My excuse for not going last semester was my commute, but I was really just too intimidated to go. I’ll change that this time around.

I am not naive. I’m aware I’m going through some new-semester hyper- motivation that may or may not burn out by the time midterms come around. Hopefully I can keep some of the tips I’ve given myself in mind, but sometimes Netflix gets in the way. Nonetheless, I take pride in what I’ve learned and the work I do in my program. I will always try my best to improve and do well on my papers.

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