Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Ruin a Paper

I have been thinking about this topic for a long time, actually the opposite of the title here, how to write a good paper. I thought, however, that one way to approach this would be to write in the converse, that is, what it takes to ruin a paper. Of course, the overall idea is that most papers are ruined through general disorganization and inattention, but let's see if any of the following grabs your attention to something you do. Anyone want to fess up? You can in the comments section.

The first rule to ruin a paper is to procrastinate. Start your paper the night before it is due. This leads to a whole waterfall of bad effects for your paper. Give yourself inadequate time for proper research. Google your search term, do a quick library search and grab the first somewhat relevant materials you find. Don't bother to find out if they are from reputable, reliable, academic sources; if they sound good, use 'em. And don't bother to find evidence that confirms what you have read- you are in a rush. Hurriedly read through the materials, not fully understanding nor absorbing them, which, after all, takes time. Crib from the articles- after all, these other authors sound like they know what they are talking about, right? And they say it better than you can. Plus paraphrasing takes time and effort. Do not carefully proofread nor edit your paper- you don't have time. Oh, and pad pad pad when you don't have enough information to fill up a paper. And just make vague statements of opinions, give unnecessary personal examples and repeat yourself.

When you start the paper, just begin typing in the words. Outlines are unnecessary and they take time too. Pull paragraphs together out of your head and stick them in some order. Don't use headings and subheadings-it is such a bother to figure out what APA wants and you don't really need that organizational help after all, right? Oh and guess at APA, it is sort of like MLA isn't it? Don't take the time to look up words or synonyms, nor to get help when you are uncertain of your grammar. Your profs will get it, won't they?

OK, so this is a parody and no one does all these things when they write a paper, but some of us do some of them. Anything strike a nerve? Ready to make a change, to move up to professional in your writing?

1 comment:

  1. Very good Dr. Judy!
    I hope your readers and students get a laugh from this post, but more so, avoid "ruining" their papers.
    Education is expensive. We all need to get our money's worth. :)