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Your Paper Writing Process

phoenix31

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I had to write a group paper once. It was not a bad experience since I had a really great set of groupmates. However, our formatting was so inconsistent and it was so blatant who wrote what because of different stylistic choices. That was the worst part

I really hate working in groups for things like that. I love getting information and perspectives from a wide variety of people in general, but when it comes to school work, I always had a hard time having to be in a group because I just prefer to do it all my own way with my own process in my own head, and don't like being forced to do it somebody else's way. I always had a hard time with creative projects like that too. I would excel writing songs or theater scripts or stories or poems or whatever if I was allowed to work by myself but when people forced me to work with a group I would get really frustrated and was annoyed with the final product and felt I could have done it better by myself. Maybe that seems a little stuck up, but I don't think it was about arrogance as much as maybe just the way I prefer to work or am best suited for working.
 

phoenix31

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I would ask for past papers, so I could model after their style , plus I always made sure they had time to read it over should they need to answer follow ups. I enjoyed group projects. Opportunities to network, and facilitate future opportunities for success. It was a win win win ime. Picking a good group is a big part of it though.

How did you come to a concensus on group projects, as far as what information was included, the order of things, etc? Was there a natural leader? Did people all pull their weight and contribute equally? These are things that always frustrated me about group projects.
 

Totenkindly

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1. Become acquainted with the material.

2. Determine what point I see coalescing out of that / what I want to write about.

3. Determine what points support the thesis I determined in #2, and often I already had these come to mind in #2.

4. Collect the detailed material to support my points.

5. Write the paper.



I never really found it that hard, but I think #1 is important ... you have to parse through the material to determine a viable thesis that is supportable by the material. If you are letting the material suggest your thesis, you're already a big part of the way home. Generating the thesis for me usually involves internally seeing the points from #3 above, that suggest the thesis.

Actually writing the thing is more just the details / work and (at least for me) wasn't that complicated. I have already written the paper "inside" and just need to externalize it.
 

The Cat

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How did you come to a concensus on group projects, as far as what information was included, the order of things, etc? Was there a natural leader? Did people all pull their weight and contribute equally? These are things that always frustrated me about group projects.

I suppose technically I fell into the natural leadership role, I spent a good deal of time with the group and with members individually building rapore, finding out who had what interests/strengths/weaknesses etc, and pretty much handled the glad handing between members. Everyone really seemed to respond wel to that, and yes everyone did their parts flawlessly. Most of the group didnt have to spend a lot of time together even, we had three main meet ups, the rest of the time it was me flower hopping between members, picking up notes from the reader, and helping them out when they were directly quoting (ie they read aloud I transcribed) then pass the relevant data to the spread sheet person, I would often write in the same room with each of them when it was time to do their papers, so I could ask questions as needed. It was a lot of work. But it was rewarding. further, even though there was more physical effort on my end than just doing it myself, it wasnt as tedious as doing the project on my own would have been, and we all got a's when we did it. So I got no complaints from my team. Afterwards, we had a little get together. Nothing fancy, just some drinks and light conversation. Still friends though we've gone our seperate ways since.
 

Tilt

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It is interesting. The way you approach writing is way too structured for me. I would find that suffocating. I find that the process of writing helps me to synthesize my thoughts and that is a very non linear and creative process. Often times I may not know exactly what I think until I start writing it down. Then there is the aspect of writing in such a way to elicit the response you are looking for from the reader and to articulate what I precisely mean which is what takes the refinement. I can spend a long time writing just a few paragraphs. I can also write things fast. I'm a one line email guy for example. Depends on how much it matters.

It's funny. My process is mix between you, [MENTION=9811]Coriolis[/MENTION] [MENTION=7842]Z Buck McFate[/MENTION]. I never quite know my thesis until I start writing it. In fact, I would usually bomb the rough draft portion of the paper. However, I would have general words, concepts (like a rudimentary, flexible outline) that I would zero in on. Then I would mull it over to figure out how to connect the dots and form the structure. Eventually, i would then write the paper in a very linear fashion but give myself the leeway to restructure or change the direction of the paper at the minute. Then I usually revise it a few times at the end. When it clicks, it really clicks... No point in trying to force the process.

I remember when I took Psychology Research Methods, we had a whole semester to do a lit review and analysis. My partner and I half-assed the project until the day before it was due (which was at least 25% of our grade). On that day, I told him, If we don't rewrite this whole paper, we will receive a C. So, i spent from 1AM to 8AM (so that I would be too tired to overthink) the day the paper was due to look through databases for better research, factor in the critiques that professor had made, make proper citations, reframe/reword my thesis/arguments and incorporate the results/analysis/discussion of our research project. It was probably around 8-10 pages and miraculously we got a 98%. My poor ISTJ 9 research partner probably thought I was certifiably nuts but felt relieved we got a such a high grade.
 

The Cat

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Also usually the consensus wasnt hard, most folks didnt even want to make their own pitch, they just wanted a passing grade. if it was a presentation, as long as they didnt have to do the presentation, they didnt care. :shrug:
 

Tilt

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Also usually the consensus wasnt hard, most folks didnt even want to make their own pitch, they just wanted a passing grade. if it was a presentation, as long as they didnt have to do the presentation, they didnt care. :shrug:

Yep, whoever cares the most about the grade tends to put in the most effort.
 

Red Memories

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I first organize all my information into notes or page numbers to utilize.

I then write a rough rough draft as I call it. Its sorta me puking all the information in a less organized fashion. I take the bits and pieces, reorganize it into a rough draft. then from the rough I sometimes either entirely rewrite the paper feeling I missed something or I finish the draft.

my rough rough draft sorta replaces the "outline" as I've never done good with outlines...I am not good at being too organized I guess lol.
 

j.c.t.

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Read the appropriate literature, make notes, get to writing any way you see fit. I've found it to be a very natural process most of the time.
 

Luminous

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Read the appropriate literature, make notes, get to writing any way you see fit. I've found it to be a very natural process most of the time.

Yeah... I was going to comment... Is it horrible that my writing process throughout my college years and high school years is a blur? You sum it up well. (And since it's relevant to what I said there, yes, I got good grades.)

It may be that I learned how to write well so early in my academic career that it ceased being a process I had to actually think about. I had to write a great many papers on humanities and social sciences, including a long research paper, about research I did myself, in college. The main thing that sticks out to me about my process was wanting to bathe in the resources or works I referenced. I didn't want to just read over them quickly, but read and reread, go deep into them. That's why there was no way I would have chosen to write about Moby Dick for a grad level lit class I had. I greatly enjoyed taking my spring break one year to write a paper on Maslow. I could dive into the material without having to come back out and wade into the pool of any other subject. Easier to focus that way.

I only ever did a technical paper with someone else, which worked flawlessly, because it was someone who was entirely compatible with me. I had forgotten about it until just now, actually, it was so seamless. Otherwise, my group projects tended to turn into fun goofiness, which I'm sure none of you can imagine.
 

highlander

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For me the nonlinear part and much of the creativity comes at that outlining stage, which is why I place so much emphasis on it. That is where I organize my thoughts and work out all the points I am trying to make and how they connect with each other - where the loosely differentiated fodder from reading and research takes on a coherent and focused form. The rest of the writing itself is almost just mechanics, though here I find more creativity in word choice, turns of phrase, parallelism and symmetry in how details are laid out, etc.

Interesting. I can't get enough "flesh on the bones" at that stage. The thoughts need to be more fully articulated. I do use outlines at times but normally abandon that. It's a way to start thinking about what I want to talk about.
 

Coriolis

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Interesting. I can't get enough "flesh on the bones" at that stage. The thoughts need to be more fully articulated. I do use outlines at times but normally abandon that. It's a way to start thinking about what I want to talk about.
I was thinking more about this today, because I am writing a paper at work, and am at the outline stage after a couple months of reading background information and interviewing experts in my "spare" time. I focus on the outline, but every now and then get a good idea for something more specific to say, or how to phrase it. When I do, I just type it after that part of the outline. I move sections of the outline around until they fit together the way I want. I fill in more detail when I don't find it clear enough. When I am satisfied with the outline, I will go back and incorporate all of these bits and pieces into the final text. For shorter papers (few pages), I often have most of the text in my head before even starting. When I am done, it rarely needs revisions.
 

j.c.t.

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Is it horrible that my writing process throughout my college years and high school years is a blur?
I'm not entirely sure what that means, so I couldn't say.

It may be that I learned how to write well so early in my academic career that it ceased being a process I had to actually think about. I had to write a great many papers on humanities and social sciences, including a long research paper, about research I did myself, in college. The main thing that sticks out to me about my process was wanting to bathe in the resources or works I referenced. I didn't want to just read over them quickly, but read and reread, go deep into them. That's why there was no way I would have chosen to write about Moby Dick for a grad level lit class I had. I greatly enjoyed taking my spring break one year to write a paper on Maslow. I could dive into the material without having to come back out and wade into the pool of any other subject. Easier to focus that way.
That's nice. I find it easy because it's something I love doing.

I only ever did a technical paper with someone else, which worked flawlessly, because it was someone who was entirely compatible with me. I had forgotten about it until just now, actually, it was so seamless.
I can't write papers with other people. In my experience we rarely have the same idea, and the ideas they do have frustrate me. I much prefer working alone.

Otherwise, my group projects tended to turn into fun goofiness, which I'm sure none of you can imagine.
I can actually imagine that...
 

oxyjen

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People actually do the "research-->notes--->outline-->rough draft---> final draft" routine? ah, ok. I always deemed this as antiquated information for the days of submitting papers written by hand, or by typewriter.

It's been a long time since I've had to write papers for classes. I would read/research, maybe take some notes. I'd get an idea of the paper taking shape in my head. From that mental map I'd write the paper from beginning to end. On the computer it is so easy to add paragraph, move a paragraph, etc. That single draft is a ball of clay I work on until I like it.*

*I'd only start on the clay about 24-72 hours before the thing was due. My lowest grade in any course or individual paper was a B, so it never bit me in the ass. Apart from screwing myself over for sleep, hating myself, vowing to do it differently next time, and then doing it absolutely the same way. Every. Single. Time.
 

The Cat

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I don't outline. I start at the beginning and when I come to the end. Stop.
 

Coriolis

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Well, I've written fairly lengthy essays for in-class exams a couple of times before. But quite frankly I don't remember what happened. Lots of frantic erasing, I'm sure.
This is one case in which an outline is especially helpful. I would make mine on scrap paper, or on the last page of the exam book, and spend a fair amount of time on it. Then, I would have a good idea what I needed to say from beginning to end, and could write the actual paragraphs fairly quickly with minimal erasing and no real need to revise.
 

highlander

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I was thinking more about this today, because I am writing a paper at work, and am at the outline stage after a couple months of reading background information and interviewing experts in my "spare" time. I focus on the outline, but every now and then get a good idea for something more specific to say, or how to phrase it. When I do, I just type it after that part of the outline. I move sections of the outline around until they fit together the way I want. I fill in more detail when I don't find it clear enough. When I am satisfied with the outline, I will go back and incorporate all of these bits and pieces into the final text. For shorter papers (few pages), I often have most of the text in my head before even starting. When I am done, it rarely needs revisions.

I can't say I've always done things this way but over the last 10 years at least, that's what I've evolved to We're both INTJs, but I think in general, you're just a much more structured individual than I am - in terms of thinking and how we operate. None of it's wrong - just different. I have wondered if it has something to do with your scientific/research background. I'm a business guy where getting things done fast and under time pressure is a constant thing. I'm sure my job has shaped how I operate. As an example, I will come up with an idea and then just implement it. You give things much more thoughtful consideration. In that way, I look a bit SPish.
 

The Cat

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[MENTION=8936]highlander[/MENTION] whoever finds someone more structured than [MENTION=9811]Coriolis[/MENTION] I will give them a prize

the person who finds the more structured person or the more structured person? Also what prize?:peepwall:
 

Coriolis

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[MENTION=8936]highlander[/MENTION] whoever finds someone more structured than [MENTION=9811]Coriolis[/MENTION] I will give them a prize
If you spent a couple of days with me, you would see that I am not nearly as structured as all that. I do find it helpful to apply some loose structures to certain kinds of tasks, though. I tend to get better results that way.
 
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