Chaos, Despair, and Research Papers

As some of you may know, I study English and Dutch literature and linguistics. This, of course, involves writing quite a number of academic papers. This semester I have to write a paper for English. In class, the theory of researching all sounded so logical – but right now, a few weeks in, it’s complete chaos. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has this problem. What the hell are we to do?

The first thing you should do is talk to your friends about it. I’m sure you will feel a little bit less panicky about it if you hear that the research is one complete and utter chaos with them too, because that would mean it’s only normal. Besides that, talking about the chaos with friends might help you to see some sort of sense in it. You will be able to look at it from a different perspective, and that can only be beneficial to your research.

Once you did that and have a slightly clearer view on what the hell you are doing, you should take some time to revise the theory you saw in class. (In my case, reread The Craft of Research.) After talking about the research chaos with your friends, you will probably be able to apply everything you discussed in class a little bit better to your own research, for at least you will have an idea of what you are doing.

And if after all that you still feel like you’re completely stuck in chaos, you should think of booking a writing mentor (if your school has those) or signing up for a consultation with your teacher. They know what they are talking about, and they will quite likely be able to help you figure out what the exact problem is that is causing the chaos. Maybe they will even be able to shine a new light on the whole thing, and then things might become clearer to you.

If you follow these steps, I’m relatively sure that you will be okay. There might still be chaos in the end, but it will be a productive kind of chaos. Or, if all else fails, you could just write a blog post about it. ; )


  • L. Parole

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