Wednesday, August 17, 2011

10 Page Papers: A Tutorial

In honor of finishing grad school and, as a result, of never again needing to write a research paper against my will, I offer this tutorial, drawn from the well of my experience, for future and present paper-writers. Please take with a grain of salt.

When confronted with a 10-pager, one is likely to panic. There are three sure antidotes:
  1. If confrontation occurs at the beginning of the semester in the form of a syllabus, one may shove thoughts of the paper to the back of the mind.*
  2. Having exhausted the first option, Wikipedia is a reliable source of inspiration. Search all wherefores and whodunits and become thoroughly distracted clicking from link to link to link investigating your potentially awesome subject.** 
  3. Make an outline of points, each to cover a single paragraph (see below for details). Include the introduction and the conclusion to make it look longer.
One should plan to have each paragraph take a whole page. This leads to only having to discuss, at most, eight points, having at least two of which are merely extensions of their predecessors (i.e. "in the past century" and "in the future century" or "outside of a cow" and "inside of a cow"), and having one of which covers controversies.

The addition of controversies to one's paper is quite beneficial. They nearly always have the marvelous effect of taking two or more paragraphs to hammer to death since there is an ample and affordable supply of opinions, many of which can be reworded in half a dozen ways. This also has the convenient effect of making up for those inevitable half-page paragraphs (however well-intentioned to be a full page) caused by sudden attacks of indifference.

It is well known that the introduction and conclusion, being nearly void of facts and requiring much original thought, are the two most difficult paragraphs to write. The so called "body" of the paper is less trying. Please take note of the following: