7 Ways to not make yourself miserable while writing a research paper

You have had your first day of class, and on your syllabus, in upper-case letters, is the phrase you dread: RESEARCH PAPER due the last day of class. Panic sets in; hands get sweaty; heart beats wildly.

Guess what?  You do not have to panic!  Try these tips and go to your happy place! (Some of these tips can be found in The Secrets of College Success; page numbers are noted.)

1. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!  The quickest way to having a miserable experience (and often a lousy grade) is by waiting too long to begin the process.

2. Start from where you are.  Decide on a topic early, either by choosing from the topics you are given, or by looking through your class materials for a good keyword. (p. 118).  If you aren’t completely sure of the meaning of a topic, use encyclopedias and dictionaries (such as through CREDO via the library) to clear it up.

3. Divide it down.  Break your paper into small pieces by setting your own deadlines for research, outlines, and drafts.  Don’t try to cram it all into one afternoon; each piece you put to writing is a step toward completion. (p. 73).

4. Start with the library.  Tens of thousands of books and articles are available, and if you choose the full text option in the databases, you can read the entire article online.  We even have e-books.

5. Interlibrary Loan is your friend. Use this for items that we don’t have; that means you have access (usually for free!) to thousands of articles and books.

6. Write (or type) it down. Take really good notes on your source and include the page numbers.  This makes doing the bibliography, footnotes, or references list so much easier! (p. 120)

7. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation.  Ask your teacher and/or a librarian.  Don’t waste time if you are truly stumped or don’t understand something.

Maria14–Contributed by Maria Bagshaw, Reference/Instruction Librarian

Attention Art History/Art Appreciation students…

QR code shelves2For your convenience, we now have QR Codes for quick access to our Research Guide for ART!

The codes are located at the end of the bookshelves with numbers beginning 709.32G-720.92W and 751.73A-759.4 R, 2nd floor of the library.

Leave a comment and let us know if you find this useful.

Need an item we don’t have? Try Interlibrary Loan!

What is Interlibrary Loan:
Interlibrary Loan is the process by which the library will request materials not available in our own collection. Items are delivered to the library and you can pick them up and check them out just like any other library item. Items are usually free.

Why you should care:
This means that you can get just about any item you want, from any library, without having to try to find it yourself, for free.

The service includes books, journal articles, DVDs, videos, and other materials.

How do I do it?
It is easy!

  1. Go to the Interlibrary Loan webpage.
  2. Read the Interlibrary Loan policies before submitting your request.
  3. Fill out your Borrower Info, then fill out the form for either Book/Audio/Video request, or for Journal Article. 

Plan ahead–sometimes items  can come quickly, but giving a week to 10 days for the item is a good rule of thumb.

For questions, contact Armando Trejo, Archives/Interlibrary Loan Librarian at (847) 214-7141.

Coming soon to a hallway near you…

ECC Mobile Librarians Sub-brand Logo-20130718…ECC Mobile Outreach!

Tuesdays & Wednesdays only
October 21-November 26

Librarians will be available at the following times and locations with their laptops to answer your questions, help you with citing, or get you started on your research.

8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.     A Building, 3rd floor
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.     B Building, 3rd floor

8:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.     B Building, 3rd floor
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.     F Building, 1st floor entrance

You can always come into the library in C Building, where we are available during our regular hours, or reach us by text (847-999-0403), email, chat, or by phone at 847-214-7354.

4 Ways to Get More Out of Study Time

So, maybe you followed advice from our previous post and set up a calendar, established good study habits, and committed to taking notes in class. But now we’re further into the semester and it’s starting to get harder. So what now? To answer that question, we return with more tips from our expert sources.

1. Say no to multitasking

Multitasking always seems like a great idea. But new research shows that you’re not so much doing it all at once as switching very fast between tasks, and that switching means you’re constantly interrupting yourself and won’t remember as much.

2. Use your notes wisely

Hey, remember all those handwritten notes you took? Don’t forget to take a look at them later! Take a second to glance over your class notes every couple of weeks, and you’ll find it a lot easier to remember what they say when it comes test time. You might even want to use them to make flash cards or draw pictures that will help them to stick in your memory.

3. If you’re going to waste time pretending to study, you might as well be studying

Secrets of College Success says it best: “Don’t give yourself credit for studying when you’re actually just cleaning your desk, getting together the reading, or reorganizing the files on your laptop.” (55)  Use our study rooms for extra quiet!

4. Take breaks, and give yourself rewards

You might think that your best chance of getting through a big project is to just keep going.  Not so, according to the colorfully-named Kick A** In College: “Most people can maintain real intensity for about thirty minutes without interruption” (129), but after that they’re not as effective. Fix this by giving yourself a few minutes to walk around outside, eat a piece of candy, or just clear your head. When you finish a big chunk of work, give yourself a bigger reward.

Carl Lehnen, Librarian

–Contributed by Carl Lehnen, former ECC Reference Librarian

Resource Spotlight: Research Guides

Are you a DIY-er and want to try researching a subject yourself?  Is it a Monday morning at 1 a.m. and you need to start your project ASAP (it’s due today!) but don’t know where to start or who to ask?  Try a Research Guide!

Research Guides give students and faculty a “one stop shop”for resources on a subject.  Resources include books, e-books, video tutorials, database links, websites, citing sources, and other extremely useful information on any given subject.

To find the Research Guides, click Research Guide on the library’s webpage.

Research Guides
Once you click on the subject area, you will see the listing of the guides under that subject. Research Guides can be specific to a class and assignment (such as ART 115), or of general use (such as Recommended Reading.)  Faculty may be particularly interested in the Professional Resources or Copyright guides. Or have the librarians create a guide specific to your class and/or assignment.

Remember that you can ALWAYS Ask a Librarian during our regular hours for additional assistance.

Safety first…Top 5 tips for keeping your stuff safe in the library

When you are studying and concentrating, it is easy to become distracted. The last thing you need is to lose your work or study materials through theft or inattention.  Here are 5 tips to help keep your stuff safe in the library:

  1. Keep personal items with you at all times, even when just going to the printer or restroom.  This includes bags, purses, phones, laptops, flash drives, and other items.
  2. Do not put purses or bags on the restroom floor where others could quickly grab them.
  3. Always log off of your library computer before you leave the library so that no one else can access your account.
  4. Report any suspicious or disruptive behavior to the Reference Desk, Computer Help Desk, Circulation Desk, or any library staff.  Do not confront any suspicious or disruptive person yourself.
  5. For emergencies, call the ECC Police at X-7777.  For non-emergencies, call X-7778.

ECC has a website devoted to safety issues, including weather, fire, and lockdown procedures.  See the ECC Campus Safety site for more information.