How to write a rough draft for a research paper: academic guidelines

If you are writing a rough draft for a research paper but you find that you are unable to start or move forward you may be experiencing writer’s block. No matter your age or level of expertise this can happen when you least expect it and it can prevent you from finishing your rough draft or your final piece.

Writer’s block is when you feel completely stuck and you cannot write. There are many causes for this including a lack of understanding of your topic, stress, anxiety, etc... Below you will find some common causes and potential solutions for writer’s block.

Are you having difficulty understanding your project?

This is a common cause of writer’s block. You can better understand your assignment by asking questions of your professor or instructor. You can ask other students too. Chances are you are not the only one confused by the wording or a particular aspect of your assignment. Many assignments have keywords in them that can navigate expectations. You can keep your eyes peeled for such phrases as “compare” , “argue” , “analyze” , or “provide evidence”.

Is your research adequate?

Maybe you are unsure of what to write about because you need to conduct more research. If so, then visit your library and ask a librarian to help you find material related to your topic or your discipline and field of study. Review key passages from the work you have already researched. Make notes regarding potential evidence and key ideas. Write things you read in your own words so that you engage active thinking. If you cannot explain a massage to your friend or yourself, then you did not understand it thoroughly. While you do this, write down any ideas that spring up.

Have you gone overboard with research?

There is such a thing as too much research. Sometimes you have difficulty writing your paper because you are overwhelmed by the amount of material you think you need to cover. You can overcome this by narrowing your research question to something that you can reasonably answer within the assigned number of pages. Doing this will enable you to discard materials that you have which are outside the scope of your assignment. You can also ask yourself what essential points you need to make in your paper. The more notes you have the easier it will become to get lost in the detail.