More Tips On How To Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

You already know you have a paper due at the end of the semester, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until after spring break to start working on it. Here are some top tips on how to research effectively when writing term papers.

How to Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

  • Start early: You don’t need to read every single source thoroughly at this point, but you need to get started early enough that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to find good sources. Starting early also lets you know if your topic is valid–if you can’t find enough research to support your argument, you’ll need to re-think your argument. Further, if you have access to a college or university library, you may need to use ILL (Interlibrary Loan) for a book or article that your library doesn’t have in the system, and those can take weeks to go through.
  • Mix-up your keyword search: Students often get frustrated because their keyword search doesn’t yield good results, but then they don’t experiment with other keyword combinations. Use keyboard shortcuts to yield more results. For instance, in EBSCO Host, Wom*n will give you results for both “women” and “woman,” with the asterisk standing in as sort of wild card. This trick will work with any word that can have multiple endings. Talk to a librarian for more shortcuts like these to help you with your search.
  • Use your library’s database system: Speaking of EBSCO Host, use your library’s database system for finding scholarly articles. Don’t rely on Google for your papers. If you don’t know what constitutes as a scholarly source, ask your instructor. As a general rule of thumb, a scholarly source is any printed source that includes a bibliography as a reference and is written by a reputable scholar in the field. Articles should be peer-reviewed, meaning they’ve gone through a rigid process of fact checking and editing before being published in a scholarly article. Blog posts, websites (including and especially Wikipedia), magazines, tradeback books, and newspapers are all examples of sources that are not academic. Unless your prof states otherwise, use scholarly/academic sources.
  • Don’t limit yourself to “full-text only” articles: And we’re back at the start again with the top tip of starting early. Limiting yourself to only reading articles that are available in a full-text format limits the amount of knowledge and research that you can use. Start now so that you can get articles from other libraries around the country using Interlibrary Loan. If you’re in a bind and the due date is looming, then sure, search for full-text sources. But now while you have time, look at books that are on the shelves as well as articles that you can get from another location. You will end up with a more thoroughly researched essay, and your instructor will recognize that you put forth a good effort in finding useful research to support your essay. (Pro tip: instructors can tell when students are only using the first two sources that popped up on a Google search.)

What are you waiting for? Start searching for sources now so that your term paper will be well-researched and well written. For more information on how to be successful during the research process, contact us today.

How To Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

Writing term papers isn’t easy no matter what class you’re taking, but it’s something you’re going to have to do sooner or later. And the first step to writing a great term paper is to make sure you do good, effective research. While it might seem easy in the age of the Internet it’s easy to stumble into mistakes when it comes to checking your facts. That’s why it’s important to follow these tips.

How to Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

Tip #1: Only Use Reliable Sources

How to Research Effectively When Writing Term PapersThere are billions of websites in existence, but not all of them are equal when it comes to doing research. Wikipedia is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to an unreliable source, but opinion blogs and user-created content is typically not what you should be citing in a term paper. Generally speaking you want something published by a newspaper, a scholarly journal, an encyclopedia, or other reference source to provide credible information for your term paper.

Tip #2: Know What You’re Looking For

The key to research is to know what you’re looking for. For example the topic of depression is huge, and it’s difficult to get more than general information on the topic. If someone is attempting to research the correlation between depression and veterans who have served in war zones though that is much more specific. The narrower you can make your search terms the more likely you are to find information that’s specific to your particular paper.

Tip #3: Utilize All Your Resources

When doing research it’s important not to get pigeon-holed. While the Internet has plenty of sources (Google Scholar and InfoMine are just two solid examples of free academic sources), it’s important not to forget that books are still on the shelves and ready to be cracked open. There are still scholarly journals and periodicals being published, and many of them can now be found in ebook format. To top it all off there are human resources such as librarians who can help you direct your queries in order to find the best information as quickly as you can.

For more information on how you can come out on top in your classes simply contact us today!

How to Work With Your Classmates in Discussion Groups For Your Online Classes

Online classes are different from traditional courses in a variety of ways. Their schedules are more flexible, you don’t have to be in a physical classroom, and work is handed in via email instead of passed to the front of the room. Online classes are still How to Work With Your Classmates in Discussion Groupsthe same in many ways though, and one of them is that students should get together to discuss the material they’re all trying to learn. One of the most common ways this happens is to create online discussion groups either in a forum-style setting, chat room, or via a Skype connection so that students who can’t get together physically can still talk.

Before you decide to try to work with your classmates online though, you need to make sure you’re ready to deal with any drama or problems that might ensue.

How to Work With Your Classmates in Discussion Groups

Tip #1: Establish Some Rules (And Enforce Them)

In order to make sure everyone in a group is on the same page it’s important to create a list of rules for everyone to abide by. These rules will help keep discussions on track, and they can help everyone feel secure. For instance a discussion group might install a rule that says “respect other members and their wishes,” or “this is a place for discussion and learning. If you can’t be civil you’ll be asked to leave.” Once the rules are established make sure you have a moderator who can take action to enforce those rules.

Tip #2: Try To Avoid Miscommunication

In any group setting it’s almost a given that someone is going to say something that will be misinterpreted. Rather than jumping all over someone or getting snarky though it’s a much better idea to ask what that person meant. If you can keep a civil discourse then you’ll get much clearer communication, and be able to learn more about both the subject matter and your fellow students at the same time.

Tip #3: Figure Out What You Want

When you join a discussion group for your online classes you need to know what you want out of the deal. Are you looking to socialize with your classmates to help feel more like a traditional class setting? Are you confused about the material and need help learning it? Do you want to help others by offering your own insight? You need to know what you’re expecting before you join so that you can figure out whether or not this group is going to meet your needs. If not then you either need to try to change the group, or find one that’s more suited to what you require.

For more information about online classes and how to succeed in them simply contact us today!

How to Avoid Falling Behind in Your Online Classes

how to avoid falling behind in online classesOnline classes are great for working adults who want to keep their jobs and earn a degree at the same time. However, the nature of online classes can make it easy to miss a lesson here or there or skip an assignment. Every misstep can add up to an ultimate F in the class. Before you get too far into the semester, make sure to take our advice on how to avoid falling behind in your online classes:

  • Put it on your calendar: Sure, you have a digital syllabus, but you probably aren’t checking it for due dates when you make appointments or schedule work meetings. Once you get a syllabus, make sure to input every single due date into your digital calendar so that you will always be alerted when an upcoming assignment is due. The old “I forgot” excuse is officially obsolete, and your instructors know it. This also helps you avoid over-booking yourself when you need extra time to prepare for an exam or write a paper.
  • Get your household on board: Your family members don’t necessarily need to know when every discussion post is due, but they should have a heads up about major tests and assignments. If you have a family calendar, put those dates up there so that your spouse and/or kids know when you need extra time to study or write a paper. If your spouse operates digitally, make some time now to go through all those dates together so s/he can input them into a calendar. This simple but important step can save a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Ask for help from your instructor: Instructors prefer that you adhere to deadlines and generally enforce strict policies for late work, but at the same time they’re human. If you have a good track record but happen to fall behind for one reason or another, send an email to your instructor. You will probably still have to pay the penalty for late work, but s/he will appreciate the heads up. If something more serious has come up that will affect several assignments, ask your instructor what you can do to get everything turned in and keep your grade up. Instructors are often willing to offer extensions when they are asked directly. They just don’t like to advertise this to the hundreds of students they teach each semester for obvious reasons.

Don’t fall behind this semester! Take these steps to stay on top of your online class and earn the grade you deserve. For more tips on how to stay organized when taking online classes, contact us.

Tips For How to Stay Organized in the Online Classroom

Keeping everything organized in college is hard to do, but for students who are taking online courses and thus never set foot in an actual classroom organization can be both a requirement and a nightmare. To stay on top of online coursework though it’s important for students to take these tips to heart.

How to Stay Organized in the Online Classroomhow to stay organized in the online classroom

Tip#1: Make Your Calendar Functions Your Friend

In the old days you could pin a calendar to the wall over your desk and mark out all of your goals and needs on it. An overview of the month let you see when tests were, when assignments were due, etc. While that still works it’s also possible to use a smartphone to set reminders so that tests and due dates don’t sneak up on you. Sit down with your syllabus and plot out the semester to make sure you know what it is due when.

Tip #2: Ignorance of The Course is No Excuse

When you first sign up for a course, whether it’s online or in-person, the teacher is going to give you a syllabus. Don’t just toss it in a drawer sight-unseen; read it. If you know what’s on the syllabus then you’re never going to be surprised when a test or quiz shows up. You’ll understand how you’re going to be graded, and you’ll know about big projects you need to complete from day one. While you might not know all of the material required for the course, you do know the date you’re expected to learn it by.

Tip #3: Make A Friend

While never actually spending time in a physical classroom is one of the big benefits of online courses, it can also be a problem if you attempt to tackle everything by yourself. If you make friends with someone taking the same course that you are it becomes easier to stay on track and keep to deadlines. It’s like having a workout buddy; even when you don’t want to crack the books or you forgot what day it is your friend will be there to help keep both of you on the road to success.

Tip #4: Make it a Priority

Life is complicated, and things happen. If you want to succeed with your online course though you need to make your education a priority and put your nose to the grind stone. There’s no two ways about it; dedication and attention to detail pays off.

For more information on how you can succeed in your online courses simply contact us today!

Completing Homework in the Online Classroom

One of the biggest differences between online and on-campus classroom dynamic is person-to-person contact. While we are not face-to-face with the instructor, oftentimes we can actually have more contact with the instructor. We are less likely to respond in a classroom setting, whereas online, it is a requirement and the instructor schedules in time to grade exams and essays, as well as read each student’s post, including their responses. So the instructor actually gets a better view into a student’s individual personality and a good feel for the overall comprehension within the class group. This can be immeasurable in knowing how to complete homework assignments in the online environment

how to complete homework assignments in  the online environmentOnline courses run on a weekly schedule, whether it is 8 or 16 weeks. For example, class will begin on a Monday and end on Sunday. The first day of class will begin with an introduction from the students and instructor. This is the time to let the instructor and other students in the class know who you are geographically, what your major is, how long you’ve been in school, etc. It also gives you a chance to show a little side of your personality. It’s not a bio, just an introduction. If you are unsure when you first start, there will probably be one or two students who are familiar enough to start the general posts. Just read through those and fill in your own information in your own way. This is an excellent way to gain a good rapport with your instructor as well as the other students. He/she will understand that you are engaged.

Most online universities run the schedule to the left (or the right) of the screen when you are “in” your class. Instructors will post or dictate what the week’s lesson is, including whatever readings, websites, research, etc. that needs to be done in order to fulfill the week’s requirement. You will have until Wednesday or Thursday to respond. Additionally, you will need to respond to at least two other students who have posted. The instructor expects these to be well thought out answers, and your response will be included in your grade, so consider them part of the weekly assessment.

Depending on the university, you can look ahead and get a feel for the work coming your way. Most syllabi will cover most of it. Don’t rely on the syllabus alone. Instructors generally add vital information at the beginning of the week through their own post.

In most classes there will be some sort of assessment at the end of each week, be it an online exam, amount of online homework completed, or an essay. Sometimes, in addition to posts, there are other activities that involve other students, who will be depending on you for part of their grade, whether it is helping with research or in submitting the final project.

Most times the instructor will not overwhelm you with material, but sometimes, particularly in upper level courses, there is a lot of material to cover and comprehend for overall comprehension. Some classes, such as mathematics, have online homework that gives you instant feedback. It is also included in your final grade. This is especially useful for students struggling to understand a concept, but it can also throw you behind if you get caught up in one particular section. Email your instructor, another student in your class or the university’s student services if you have any problems.

Falling behind in one class will also jeopardize any other classes you are in so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself mentally. Accept ahead of time that this can happen and prepare physically to thwart any hills coming your way. Mostly this means just being present, in class, in activities and in reading the material assigned.

Commit yourself openly for the first couple weeks until you can get a feel for completing expectations. Measure your homework against any other classes you have as well as your own personal schedule. Keep in mind, of course, that the class itself will become more demanding as the course progresses. Most students will find that they fare better in their own major classes. Consider balancing one in your major and one outside requirement so that you don’t have two classes that bog you down.

Again, instructors aren’t usually trying to overwhelm you, but sometimes there is a lot of reading and research involved. Making sure you have enough time to complete the requirements and comprehend the lessons for the week will most assuredly help you pass the class. For more information contact us.

How to Deal With Conflicts With Your Online Instructor (And Maintain A Positive Relationship)

Online instruction is becoming more and more popular as a form of education, and why not? Students pay less for the courses, they have more flexibility on their time, there’s no need to show up to a physical classroom, and as long as students have an Internet connection they can get the lessons they need. Some things never change though, and one of those things is conflict between students and instructors.

Fortunately for students though it’s often possible to resolve conflict with an instructor by taking measured, reasonable steps.

how to deal with conflicts with your online instructorHow to Deal With Conflicts With Your Online Instructor

Step One: Remove Emotion, Define the Conflict

The first step to resolving conflict with your online instructor is to take a deep breath, and relax. Conflict by its very nature can lead to hot tempers and angry demands, so it’s best to take a day or so and make sure you can think through the conflict before you do anything you might regret. Once you’ve calmed down examine the situation on its facts; is there a conflict here? If there is, can you define what it is? Maybe it’s the way your instructor graded your essay, or you need to get an extension on a project due to extenuating circumstances, but make sure you can define it simply.

Step Two: Contact Your Instructor And Arrange A Meeting

Online instructors, just like physical ones, will have office hours or days when it’s best to contact them (you’ll find the information in your syllabus). Email or call your professor and ask if you can schedule a meeting at a given time or on a given day. If a face-to-face meeting is possible that’s typically the best option, but if you can Skype or discuss things over a phone call that’s often better than discussing your situation purely through text since there’s facial expression, tone of voice, etc. to help convey meaning.

Step 3: Lay Out The Situation and Your Problems With It

When you have your meeting lay out the situation as you see it, and the difficulties you’re currently facing. Don’t make accusations or try to lay blame, but instead try to reach across the aisle and communicate openly. If you don’t understand something then ask for clarification. Once you’ve laid out the situation as you see it, ask if what you’re seeing is accurate, and give your instructor time to explain his or her side of things.

Step 4: Discuss Possible Solutions

Once the problem has been laid out the next step is to discuss methods that can be taken to solve it. If you feel that your grade on an essay wasn’t as high as deserved an instructor might be willing to consider your points and alter the final grade. Alternatively the instructor might suggest that he or she review your next paper to ensure that you get the grade you want. It’s important to work with your instructor to find a solution that’s fair and reasonable.

If you go through all of these steps you’ll be able to bring your concerns to your instructor, and hopefully find solutions to fix the problem as it exists. There’s no guarantee that it will work, but if you’re respectful, honest, and open about the issues you’re having then you’re much more likely to get them resolved than if you aren’t.

For more information on dealing with online courses and conflicts simply contact us today!