Getting Started on Final Papers
So it’s that time of the semester that we all forgot about-final papers/project season. You know, because we were surviving it week by week, midterm by midterm, page by page of mostly monotonous readings? It can be daunting to begin tackling a huge and cumulative assignment when you have no idea where to even begin. Here are some strategies to get started:
- Chunking: Ever get this feeling that you are so overwhelmed by the task that no matter how much time you devote to sitting down at your desk, you just are too paralyzed to start? Don’t start off thinking you are going to do it all in one sitting. Begin by breaking down the assignment into different stages and assign yourself goals. Perhaps start off with re-reading major concepts of the course since that might inspire a certain topic or focus for your paper. Then, on another day or week, move on to researching and making connections to texts covered in the class. The point is to establish tasks that are realistic bite-sized chunks.
- Concept Mapping: Having a whiteboard (or blank paper) and some different colored markers (different color= different theme/connection) help to get all your ideas out there without the pressure of writing full on paragraphs or pages. Brainstorm with drawing if you have to! Jot down ideas and key concepts and this way, you can also work towards clarifying your arguments.
- Come into Weingarten: Learning instructors here at Weingarten have various academic backgrounds including and ranging from doctoral students, research assistants, social scientists, and academics. Having another person to help you “talk through” your scholarly ideas is a great way to learn. What it comes down to is really cliche but hey, it works: “Two heads are better than one!”
Staff writer: Victoria Gill
Tech Tuesday: How to Activate the Dictation Feature on Your Mac
Tired of typing papers? Or maybe you’re just really not feeling like typing and want to dictate your notes, thoughts, or next assignment? If you have a Mac, use these simple 8 steps to get the dictation on your computer working instead of paying loads of money for the Dragon software or other apps:
1. Go to the apple menu
2. Click on system preferences
3. Towards the bottom, click on “Dictation & Speech”
4. Click “on”
5. Then click “Use Enhanced Dictation”
6. Let the “enhanced” version download really quick. Should be less than 3-5 minutes depending how good your internet connection is.
7. You can use this feature in Word Documents or even in other note-taking applications like Evernote!
8. Press the “fn” (function) key twice to activate! Let the paper writing begin!
Staff Writer: Victoria Rodriguez
Secrets from Inside a Grant Writing Panel
Three graduate students in three separate disciplines—social sciences, humanities and natural sciences—came together at the Penn Graduate Student Center to percolate on the real process behind grant writing. Here’s what we learned:
• Get a Fan Club.
o It’s imperative to have people around you that remind you why you’re doing your work. It’s also important to have people in your field that you can relate with and share your concerns and process.
• Be Your Own Fan Club.
o Grant writing requires that you write about yourself and sometimes “sell” your accomplishments. A learning instructor can help you remove your ego (or lack thereof!) from the brainstorming experience so you can shine without concern.
o A successful grant is dependent on thorough research—so start this process early and plan for extra time. Be innovative in how you approach the project and give yourself time for brainstorming and conversations with colleagues and supporters.
• Tap into Past Success(es).
o Remember how you rocked that project, presentation, dissertation? Tap into that success by remembering the time management strategies that worked for you so you can apply them to this task.
What are your secrets for success with big writing projects?