Organizing A Research Paper

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A good rule of thumb: Most paragraphs in the Research paper should cite more than one source.

If your paper typically cites only one source per paragraph, that’s a sign that the paper should be re-organized.

The headings of your spreadsheet are where you can make this your own.

In my spreadsheet, I have: Some of these headings may not be of interest to you, but you are free to add any characteristic or metric you may want to use as a filter or sorting feature. As you go along you can add or remove as you see fit.

Here are two pointers for your Major Spreadsheet: First, start early and add often.

I add to my Major Spreadsheet whenever I come across an article pertinent to my research area (graduate students with mental health challenges and disabilities).I initially was only adding journal articles, but realized this would work better if it truly housed all my resources.I therefore add anything related to my work: books, policies, blog posts.I started a similar spreadsheet very early in my program.Here’s what it looks like: What you want to do is add a bunch of column headings for things you want to keep track of and then start adding resources to each row.I started this in the first year of my program, so I have quite a few articles now.As Campbell points out in her post, this approach is great because it can help you see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve read. The beautiful thing about workflow and organization is that there is no right way to do it; you can customize anything.Think of a car engine: when we do critique (as in the Literature Review), we're not driving the car (what you do normally when you read).Instead, we're popping the hood and taking the engine apart to see how it's made and find the broken pieces.The Major Spreadsheet In her post called “How I Use Excel to Manage My Literature Review,” Elaine Campbell outlines her approach to using a spreadsheet to manage literature.I call her approach the Major Spreadsheet, because she is mapping out a very large body of literature for her doctorate in a single spreadsheet.


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