How to start writing a paper

Do you need help to start putting words on paper? Whether you’re procrastinating or simply not in a writing mood, you might need some tools to get over that hump and start writing. As a high school teacher I developed a toolkit to help my students commence writing for their essays and research papers, and now as a PhD student I am using these myself to get started on my writing tasks. These tips are relevant for any type of academic text, whether it’s a school essay, a research proposal, or a scientific paper.

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Developing research questions for your PhD

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I entered my PhD studies with an assumption that my academic success in my undergraduate and postgraduate coursework would naturally translate to success in doctoral research. I was wrong! During the first two months of the program, my self-esteem took a major blow as I struggled to figure out how to put together a research proposal. Although I had done this before on a much smaller scale and with more guidance for my Master’s thesis, the PhD proposal was a much gnarlier beast which I was ill-prepared to fight. And the hardest part was the one that seemed the most basic — developing the research questions.

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