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Old 12-28-2012, 10:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
Axel
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Greencastle, Pennsylvania

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So you'll be reading through past attacks, what biological agents are out there, who's developed them, how a non-state terror organization might get a hold of them, means of delivery, and preventative & reactive measures in place?

What level class are you taking (100/200, 300/400, graduate?) How long is the paper supposed to be? Are you limited on the topic, or are you free to adjust, narrow, expand? I found that one important part of writing a good paper was to narrow the topic just so that there was plenty of information available, but limited enough that you can absorb most of what you read and turn it into a coherent, intelligent paper.

I used the note card method for most of my papers, and it works. It's a lot of tedious effort up front but it pays off at writing time. Get a pack of 3x5 index cards:

1. Every source you crack open gets a bibliography card. Write the bibliography entry just like it will go into your paper, according to the style (MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian) you are using. Every bibliography card gets a letter.
2. As you read the source, every time you get a fact that may be relevant for your paper, write it on the card. One fact per card, break it down as far as you can. Each note card gets the letter corresponding to its bibliography card, a subject title, a page number from the source (if relevant), and a note as to whether it's a direct quotation, a paraphrase, or summary.
3. Once you have enough information, group the card together by subject. These become sections and paragraphs. Group them according to your outline. You will end up throwing some away as your direction evolves.
4. Once you have the stack of cards in order, pick them up one paragraph or section at a time, and write. You know how to do that by now: subject, supporting data, conclusion. Add your own analysis, fill in references per style, write introduction and conclusion sections to tie it all together and you're done. The bibliography is copied verbatim from the cards.

It's like building an autococker: gather all the right parts (and there are so many options!), then put them in order, assemble, time, and play.
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Last edited by Axel; 12-28-2012 at 10:10 PM.
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