9 Steps to Writing a Great Research Paper

By Amanda Marie Clark

The research paper can be intimidating for even the most well-seasoned writer. Working on such a big task isn’t exactly what most of us want to do with our out-of-class time. But you can own that process and come out with a paper you’re proud of. Let’s break up that research paper into steps and make your life a whole lot easier.

1. Choose a topic

You might think this step is common sense, but sometimes that first step is the hardest. Even if your teacher gives you a general subject or topic, you still need to narrow it down.

For example, say your teacher assigns a research paper on volcanoes, that’s a huge topic to cover! Are you looking at why volcanoes erupt? Maybe you’re doing a survey of all the active volcanoes in the world, or are talking about what happens when they die. Obviously, you need to zero in on one thing.

2. Gather sources

So you have a topic. Great! Now it’s time to gather all of your sources. Make sure that you diversify. Prime example: try not to have your sources all be websites or all be authored by the same person. Strong research is built upon diverse sources, authors, observations, and experiments all supporting (or disproving) the same concept. Your teacher will thank you.

Aside from just websites, maybe look at a book, a journal article, videos, maps, etc. That will help you build a good basis for an excellent research paper.  

Don’t forget: make sure your sources are reliable! Consider the credibility of your sources. That includes factors like credibility, relevance, currency, authority, and purpose.

3. Write the bibliography

Waiting to do your bibliography when you’re at the end of writing your paper seems like a good idea, but actually doing them as you gather sources is the way to go.

Why? Because the last thing you want to do is go back through your paper to identify information you need to cite, while also trying to remember where the information came from. Worse still, if you miss or forget to cite a source, it could be considered (accidental) plagiarism. Yikes!

Whether it be in APA or MLA format, the easier and smarter way is to make your citations from the get-go. Also, doing it at the beginning of a project means you will still have steam to properly format and proofread your paper at the end.

4. Take notes

All right, on to the meaty part. After you have your topic and sources, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start taking notes.

So what’s the solution? I found that having a separate page for every source helped. But you might try graphic organizers like T-charts or Cornell notes. Some students also like writing all of their notes with bullets.  

There are many approaches to choose from. So once you find a strategy that works for you, go with it.

5. Write your thesis

Some people like writing their thesis right after finding their topic. This helps them set up a research strategy.

Others like writing the thesis after researching and taking notes. The information gathered helps them look at the topic more clearly and puts them in a better-educated place to come up with a thesis.

Either way is fine as long as it works for you. Just remember that a thesis is a crucial element to a research paper and needs to be done before working on your outline.

You can also think about your thesis as you narrow down your topic and begin to research.

Let’s stick with that volcano paper example. You could form a question like: “How are volcanoes formed?” This allows you to research an answer that you can use as the basis of your thesis.

For more information on how to form a thesis read 4 Simple Steps to Writing a Good Thesis Statement.

6. Write an outline

Outlines help a lot! They get your thoughts in order and provide starting points for writing. When you start to expand on them, the ideas should flow.

An outline organizes your thoughts in note formation. Start by brainstorming the main ideas of each paragraph’s topic sentence and then jot down the main ideas around each topic.  

There are many ways to create a research paper outline. An easy way to approach one is to use numbers for each of your main paragraphs and letters for specific points within each paragraph.

An outline also breaks down the structure of your paper. So your introduction, body paragraphs, and concluding paragraphs should be in their proper places and good to go.

7. Write a rough draft

Next, sit down and start typing a rough draft based on the outline. The outline is the blueprint to your paper; build out each section based on it. Don’t worry too much about punctuation or making total sense, just get some thoughts in full sentences on paper.

Seriously, type and push those thoughts forward while trying not to press backspace.

8. Move on to the second, third…drafts

Now you can get analytical. Go through and start fixing your draft up. 

Try to make sure that everything in your paper relates to your thesis. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.

Look for concrete details. That means if you made a claim, support it with research.

After looking over your second draft, take a breather. Don’t try to correct it again for a little while. Your brain needs a break. Go jogging, do some yoga, watch a movie, or sleep on it (if it’s not due the next day). Then go back and reread it.

Repeat this process a couple of times.

Also consider having someone proofread your paper, or even running it through an automated tool like the BibMe Plus grammar checker. It’ll catch the typos and small grammar errors you just didn’t see. Then finish off with a lovely typed, final draft.

9. Hand it in with pride

Lastly, hand in that sparkling, finished research paper with pride because you just gave it your all. And I bet you learned a lot about volcanoes too!

Before you begin typing, refresh your grammar knowledge with our guides on relative pronouns, coordinating conjunctions, prepositions, and other parts of speech.

How to Use Thanksgiving Break Productively

TGFT: Thank goodness for Thanksgiving! Whether you’re spending your break with friends or family, the time off is a nice respite from school. But between forkfuls of pie, you can actually make great use of your school vacation by getting ahead on schoolwork and even making progress toward securing that summer job/internship—yes, that timeline is sneaking up already.

Here are six things you can do over Thanksgiving break to help you return to class feeling ready to take on finals week and secure the perfect summer internship.

Get ahead on schoolwork

Chances are, you have long-term assignments or projects due sometime after Thanksgiving. Get ahead on work—and save yourself from stress down the line—by using your break to complete these. It could be as small as brainstorming research paper topics, or as consuming as finishing an entire presentation. Just target a few assignments you’d like to work on, and bring your books with you if you’re traveling for the holiday. This way, when finals week comes up, you’ll be able to focus on prepping for exams rather than on finishing projects.

Update your resume

Haven’t had the opportunity to add your fall internship or new leadership position to your resume? Now’s your chance. Summer internship and job opportunities for many fields begin to open up in November—so Thanksgiving marks a great moment to ready your resume for the job search.

Start your summer internship/job search

Thanksgiving is early to start your internship or job search—but it’s not too early. Get ahead of the game by scoping out when your target companies begin their recruiting cycles. Add important dates—like application openings and deadlines—to your calendar, so that you’re able to have everything in before the due date.

Pro tip
: Cover letters and writing samples can be time-consuming to craft, and Thanksgiving is a great time to work on them both! If writing isn’t your strong suit, this grammar and
plagiarism checker can help review your letter so you send it off with more confidence.

Catch up on missed readings

If you’ve managed to fall behind in any of your classes, it’s not too late to catch up before finals week begins! If you’re leaving school for the holiday, shove those textbooks into your carry-on suitcase or toss them in the backseat of the car before you head out of your dorm room for the break. Take careful notes that will help you when it comes time to study for final exams.

Pro tip: if you’re doing readings for a research paper, start citing sources as you take notes. It’ll make it MUCH easier later when you write your paper and need to create an
MLA works cited, an annotated bibliography, or a reference list in APA format or Chicago style format.

Get some extra sleep

Yes, you read that tip right! Feeling tired after completing the majority of the fall semester? Now’s the time to get the sleep you haven’t recouped since midterm season. Try getting a full eight hours of sleep every night during the break—and try to wake up naturally, not from the sound of a buzzing alarm. That way, you’ll go into finals season feeling refreshed, rather than burnt-out.

Take some me-time

Thanksgiving break provides a good time to get ahead for the quickly approaching finals week, but it also marks an opportunity to finally take a breather after making it through the majority of a busy semester. Sprawl out on the couch and watch a few Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends,” or go for a jog in the park. Thanksgiving break is a break, after all, and self-care is important. After completing most of the fall semester, you’ve earned some time for rest and relaxation before hunkering down for finals week.

Want to step up your writing game? Learn more about subject-verb agreement, what a predicate adjective is, how to use demonstrative pronouns, and other grammar points with BibMe’s grammar guides!

Bounce Back From a Bad Paper Grade

Nothing’s more frustrating than getting a bad grade on a paper, especially if you thought you nailed it until you saw the offending mark.

But if you get a bad grade on a paper, there’s no need to write off the class itself—you can get your overall grade back up with a better performance on the next assignment. Try the tips here to help you bounce back from that bad grade!

Turn your next paper in with more confidence by running it through the BibMe Plus grammar and
plagiarism check. It’ll suggest writing edits and flag unintentional plagiarism. You can also start building your grammar knowledge with our guides on pronouns, prepositions, adverbs, and other parts of speech.

1. Don’t Panic

Remember: One bad grade doesn’t define you. It can be difficult to keep a level head after you receive an unfortunate mark, but it’s important to try your best. Take a minute to be upset, and feel free to vent to a friend or family member. However, make sure to take time to cool down so you don’t end up blowing up at your professor.

Try to use that frustration as motivation to do better. Below are a few strategies you can use.

2. Read Over the Comments

If your professor or teaching assistant left detailed comments on your paper, don’t ignore them. Read through all of the suggestions carefully so you can get an idea of what needs to be improved. Use those remarks to inform your future writing, and analyze whether there’s a common theme among all of your mistakes.

2. Talk to Your Professor

Getting a bad mark on a paper can be frustrating, but you shouldn’t take out those frustrations on your teacher. Take the time to talk to your professor and discuss what you did right, what you did wrong, and how you can improve. For subsequent essays, you could meet with your professor or a teaching assistant in advance to come up with a game plan. If you’re intimidated to speak with your professor, see if your college has a writing center. A writing center’s main purpose is to effectively help you work on your writing and papers.

3. Reflect Upon the Situation

Think back to when you initially wrote the paper, and figure out what went wrong. Did you spend an adequate amount of time on the essay? Did you try writing your paper with the TV blaring? Reflect upon how you ended up writing the essay you wrote, and try to figure out what you can do to improve the writing process.

4. Get Some Perspective

For a student who did especially well in high school, a C+ on a research paper might seem like a unsurmountable disappointment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a C is average. Ask your professor if there’s a curve for the class.

5. Have a Friend Read Over the Next Paper

While you should trust your own instincts when it comes to paper writing, it’s also helpful to have a pal in your class read over your paper before giving it to your professor for review. If you have a friend who did well on the paper you bombed, ask them if you can read over what they wrote to get a better sense of what your professor is looking for.

6. Pay Mind to Spelling and Grammar

Although spelling and grammar may seem relatively unimportant, they can make a big difference when it comes to your final paper grade. For your next paper, make sure to carefully comb through the essay, and make sure to at least run it through spell check before sending it off.

Stressed about creating citations for your paper? BibMe has your back! It’s the APA and MLA citation generator you’ve been looking for. If you need another style like Harvard, Chicago style format, and others, BibMe has thousands of styles to choose from.

Sweet and Spooky Superstition Origins

Whether you’re the logical type who only knocks on wood at front doors, or wary individual who wouldn’t dream of scheduling a job interview on Friday the 13th, Halloween is a time when superstitions take center stage. No matter where you are on the superstitious-versus-skeptical spectrum, these beliefs can teach us a lot about history and culture. So here’s a little Halloween history lesson on the origins of six of the most-common superstitions.

It’s pretty traumatizing to see your well-researched paper marked up with red edits everywhere! Perfect your paper before turning it in with the BibMe Plus grammar and anti-plagiarism tool. Or start off slow by learning the basics of verbs, pronouns, nouns, interjections, and more!

Fear of Friday the 13th

Fridays make most of us go “Woo hoo!” since it’s the end of the school or work week. But, for those who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, Fridays are something to fear when they happen on the 13th day of the month.

Friday has long been considered bad luck because it is the day of the week Jesus died. In Britain and ancient Rome, Friday was also known as Hangman’s Day because it was usually when prisoners sentenced to death were hanged. Fear of the number 13, or triskaidekaphobia, can likewise be associated with Christianity because Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. Numerologists also say 13 gets a bad rap because it falls directly after 12, which is considered a complete number—there are 12 months in a year, 12 signs in the zodiac, 12 numerals on a clock, etcetera. So the number 13 is beyond complete, which is freaky, especially when it falls on a Friday.

It’s Bad Luck to Walk Under a Ladder

How can something so average be so intimidating? It’s scary enough to make most of us walk around—and not under—a ladder without even realizing it. Well, it all started in Egypt.

In ancient Egypt, the triangle—the shape formed by a ladder leaning against a wall—was considered sacred because it represented the trinity of the gods. So traipsing  through the triangle was blasphemous. Later, Christians adopted the superstition, applying it to the Holy Trinity. And because there was a ladder propped against Jesus’ cross, they equated a leaning ladder with betrayal and death.

Walking under a ladder is also thought to be bad luck because it resembles a gallows. In fact, criminals sentenced to death in 17th century England were forced to walk under a ladder on their way to the hangman. Finally, there are perfectly practical reasons for not strolling under a ladder, which could hold a handyman and heavy tools or wet brushes and buckets of paint.

A Black Cat Crossing Your Path Brings Bad Luck

This superstition seems to also have roots in ancient Egyptian culture, where people revered cats of every color and actually thought a black cat crossing your path was a harbinger of good luck to come. But black felines fell out of favor in the Middle Ages, when many thought the animals served as “familiars” of witches or were witches in cats’ clothing—certainly not something you’d want to cross. Puritans brought the belief to America, where black cats and witches are still seen as partners in Halloween decorations and Hollywood productions.

Knocking on Wood Helps Ward Off Bad Luck

“I haven’t failed a test this semester, knock on wood.”

“Yes! I found the perfect study spot no one else knows about yet, knock on wood.”

These days, we knock on wood after talking about some fortunate event or circumstance to keep their good luck going. The origins of this practice date back to a time when trees were worshipped or mythologized in many cultures. For instance, pagans in Europe practiced noisy rituals in the forest to chase evil spirits away and to keep those spirits from catching wind of good luck and turning it sour. Other tree worshippers laid their hands on a tree when asking for a favor from the gods that lived inside it or to give thanks for a run of good fortune. Over time, these superstitions have evolved into knocking on any wooden surface to keep bad luck at bay.

Finding a Four-Leaf Clover Is Good Luck

The common clover has long been seen as a sign of good things to come, with the Celts viewing it as a symbol of spring and rebirth. Later, Saint Patrick used it as a visual to explain the balance between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while converting people to Christianity across Ireland.

But the more rare four-leaf clover has an equally storied history. Druids, who were the educated class among ancient Celts, believed carrying one allowed them to spot demons and ward off evil spirits. Some even believe that Eve carried a four-leaf clover from the Garden of Eden when she left. So people who find a four-leaf clover today are carrying a little piece of paradise in their pockets.   

Breaking a Mirror Brings Seven Years of Bad Luck

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, are you bad luck after all?”

Sure, sharp shards of glass are dangerous, but why do some people believe breaking a mirror will bring bad luck long after the glass is swept away? The origin of the superstition dates back to the days when people thought mirrors provided a reflection of not just physical features, but your soul. So if you broke a mirror, you’d also do damage to yourself. Though seven is considered a significant and often lucky number in many cultures, it’s bad luck in this case because the Romans believed a person’s health ran in seven-year cycles. Therefore, it would take that long for your soul to repair itself and help you shed your shattered luck.

So if you plan to attend a Halloween party this year, be careful not to break any mirrors while donning your costume. If you do, maybe you should keep an eye out for four-leaf clovers to help turn your luck around.

Like this article? If you use it in an assignment, you can cite it and nearly any other source with our BibMe citation tools! Easily generate citations in MLA formatting, APA, Chicago format, or another style.

How to Cite Your Teacher’s (or Anyone’s) Email

In today’s world, it’s super common for teachers to communicate with students via email. Assignments and papers are often submitted this way, and lecture notes can be easily shared with the entire class all at once. So, how would you cite this type of communication in your paper?

To cite an email from your teacher, you should make note of the following pieces of information:

  1. Your teacher’s name
  2. Title/subject of the email
  3. Recipient’s name (You!)
  4. Date sent

Below, we present the citation structure and an example in MLA, APA, and Chicago style format.

Need help citing other types of sources? Check our our helpful guides on BibMe.org, such as this one, on how to write an annotated bibliography.


Structure for MLA style:

Teacher’s Last Name, First Name. “Subject Line of Email.” Received by Your First Name Last Name, Date Sent.


Olsen, Mary. “Re: Midterm Homework Assignment.” Received by Jonas Bonds, 15 Mar. 2015.


In APA style, no personal communication is included as an entry in your reference list. Instead, parenthetically cite your teacher’s name, the phrase “personal communication,” and the date of the communication as an in-text citation.


(Teacher’s First Initial. Last Name, personal communication, date sent).

(E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).


Like in APA style, you do not need to include a reference in your bibliography for personal communications like emails. Instead, include the reference as a footnote at the bottom of the page.


  1. Teacher’s First Name Last Name, e-mail message to class, Date sent.


  1. Patricia Burns, e-mail message to class, December 15, 2008.

Need an extra set of eyes to review your paper? Run your assignment through our grammar and plagiarism checker. We’ll provide instant feedback on any spelling, grammar, and plagiarism issues we see in your paper. If you’ve just started writing, it may pay to read our free grammar guides on pronouns, what is an adjective, a prepositional phrase, and other parts of speech.

10 Next-Level Study Tips for Acing Tests

By Caleigh Propes

Sometimes studying can be rewarding, but usually it’s just really tiring! Most of us dread those hours going over facts for a history exam or working out problems for a math quiz. Use the tips below to make studying just a little bit easier, and see your confidence skyrocket!

1. Make a Playlist

While jamming to your favorite top 40 songs might make studying more fun, studies show that classical music is actually better to listen to while studying. Try making a playlist of softer piano or string quartet pieces to make you relaxed and give your brain a boost while studying. Also, putting in your headphones will block out any outside noises that could be distracting you. 

2. Consider Your Timing

Think about your own habits. Are you a nocturnal night owl or an eager early riser? Both have benefits—early risers may have more energy, but night owls often have study spaces to themselves. Use your own natural rhythms to your advantage, and plan your studying around when you work best. This may mean getting up earlier or sleeping in later, so make sure you prepare by getting adequate rest the night before a big day of studying.

3. Eat Brain Food, Not Junk Food

Eating while studying can be the best thing ever, but it depends on what you choose to nosh on. Some foods are great study snacks that can keep you energized, while others will make you feel sluggish and heavy. Try eating snacks like air-popped popcorn, fruits and vegetables, and nuts to get the boost you need. Avoid candy, chips, and other empty calories that will make you crash. If you need some caffeine, try green tea. It is full of anti-oxidants and won’t leave you crashing like sugary lattes or energy drinks.

4. Check Online for Materials

If you are taking a class with a lot of other students, it is likely that some of them have posted study resources online, especially if this course is offered year after year. These materials could help compliment your own notes or resources. Also, you can always be proactive and reach out to friends in your class to make a shared study guide.  

5. Cite Sources AS You Study

For any project that requires academic sources (like a research paper), be smart about how you handle them and keep a list of sources from the start. It’s easiest to make a bibliography and add to it as you go along, rather than waiting until the end when you may forget an in-text citation or accidentally lose track of a source. Websites like BibMe are great for making citations in APA, MLA, Chicago style format, and other styles.

6. Use Website Blockers

It’s super easy to lose time looking through Instagram or your Facebook feed when you should really be studying. If you’re guilty of this, try using a website blocker app on your computer. You can set which websites you want to block and for how long. You are sure to have a more productive study session if you unplug for a little while, so give this a try if you need just a little nudge to keep yourself on track. Keeping your phone out of reach helps too! 

7. Don’t Study in Your Bed or on Your Couch

Your room can be a really convenient place to study. After all, it’s your home away from home! However, nothing is more tempting during a full day of studying than a nap, and staying away from your bed while studying can prevent you from a three-hour detour. Studies even show that students that study in their beds are more likely to have lower GPAs! 

8. Set Goals

If you have a big exam coming up, it is important to plan out your studying. Think at least a week in advance, and pencil in times each day with specific benchmarks for your progress. For example, you may want to study three concepts a day or one chapter a day, depending on how your course is broken up. Setting goals and planning in advance will give you confidence, ensure that you have all of the material covered, and keep you from scrambling at the last second.

9. Know When to Study With Friends

Studying with friends can be great! However, it might be better to spend your first few days studying alone, making sure to master each concept. When you feel more confident, consider making a study group to review all of the concepts a few days before a big test. Here, each person can try to explain a concept to the group. After all, the best way to know if you have a topic mastered is to see if you can explain it! Think about choosing classmates with similar work ethics, even if you aren’t best friends. This will help you stay on track and work hard without the distraction of a friend who is a little bit behind you in their progress.

10. Go the Extra Mile

Teachers often hold review sessions or office hours before tests, so make sure to put these dates in your calendar and attend if possible. Teachers are also usually open to meeting with students one-on-one or answering questions via email, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Studying on your own is not always enough, and with the expert at your disposal, don’t be shy! Go the extra mile and use any bonus opportunities to your advantage.

If you’ve got a big test in your future, don’t freak. Studying is a process that can be long and daunting, but once you’ve got it down, it’s so rewarding. With these strategies and a positive attitude, you are sure to ace your next exam and make yourself proud.

Writing instead of studying? Get a little writing help with the grammar and plagiarism checker available with BibMe Plus! If you’re still in the beginning stages of writing, brush up on grammar with our guides on prepositional phrases, possessive pronouns, interjections, and other parts of speech.

Antiquated but Awesome Words You Need to Use Right Now

By Devon Brown

Have you ever wished there was a word to describe that delicious smell after rain falls? Actually there is! The English language is many centuries old, and like clothes, words fall in and out of fashion. After some digging, we’ve found a few gems ready to make a come back.

If you’re looking for modern day help on your next paper, our spell checker is at your service.



They love to hear their own voices even more than being right. An ultracrepidarian is person who shares an opinion on topics they know nothing about.


Raul is the ultimate ultracrepidarian. He is totally comfortable arguing about European politics even though he knows nothing about them.  



The phrase “to feel crappy” takes on a whole new level of depth and sophistication when it’s converted to crapulence which describes the feeling of discomfort after drinking or eating too much.


There is nothing like a good game of touch football to work off post-Thanksgiving crapulence.



Stuck at your desk with nothing to do? Looks like you’ll have to fudgel, which means pretend to work without actually doing anything.


Sometimes I feel like it is actually easier to do work than to fudgel all day.



If one minute you’re enjoying a tasty treat on your own and the next you’ve given half away, you’ve probably been groaked. It’s when someone silently watches you eat in the hope that you’ll share.


My dog can groak under the dinner table for hours until he is fed a treat.



The 1960’s are hardly ancient times, but when you find a word that describes that yummy smell of fresh rain on dry soil, it begs to be shared.


The petrichor in the air more than made up for our shoes getting wet on our walk home.



Admiration for a beautiful booty is not a modern invention. Callipygian is an old school, circa 1600, adjective that describes a beautiful butt.


Her callipygian posterior made an otherwise ugly skirt look very fashionable.



When a uncontrollable laugh bursts from your face, you can call on the Middle English word kench to describe the experience.


Vanessa knew the text message would be funny, but not so hilarious that she would kench in church.



We have the Germans to thank for this word that describes the pleasure taken from the misfortune of others.


Everytime Lori had a difficult day, her boyfriend couldn’t hide his schadenfreude so she had to break up with him.



Gossip doesn’t have to be true to do damage. With French and Latin roots, scurrilous is a word that describes lies designed to damage a reputation.


Maxwell would have made a great class president, but scurrilous rumors about his year abroad made it impossible to electhim.

Create citations easily in MLA, APA format, Chicago format, and more with Citation Machine.

What to Do in the Fall to Prepare for Summer Internship Season

By Ella Chochrek

During the fall semester, the following summer feels an awful long way away. Nonetheless, some internship applications may be due before the end of the calendar year. Gah!

Even if applications for your dream job haven’t opened yet, it never hurts to get a head start! There are things you can do in the fall to stay ahead of the curve, prepare yourself for summer internship season, and avoid undue stress further down the line.

Here are some things you can do during the fall to help make sure you’re in a position to get the kind of internship you want:

Revise Your Resume

With the fall, back-to-school rush, chances are that you haven’t updated your resume recently. Now’s the time! Review your resume, adding in relevant experience—be it academic, work, or volunteering—that you’ve gotten in the past few months. Also consider whether there’s anything listed that’s now become outdated and should be removed.

If you’ve written your resume or cover letter, it might be a good idea to run it through a grammar checker like the one from BibMe Plus. It’ll examine punctuation, word choice, subject-verb agreement, spelling, proper noun capitalization, and other factors that affect the quality of your writing.

Visit the Career Center

Does your college have a career center? If so, take advantage of this amazing resource! Make an appointment to meet with a counselor and go over your career goals. There may be jobs that fit in perfectly with your skill set that you haven’t even considered, or your school may have great alumni connections that you didn’t know about. In short, there are only benefits and no drawback to visiting your career center.

Research Companies You Find Interesting

Think you want to work at a certain company? Find out more about it by going through job postings! Check out internships.com, search on a browser, or visit a company’s own website to see what types of jobs are available. This way, you can get a sense of what tasks you might be asked to perform—and you can figure out whether your strengths align with what a company is looking for.

Go on Informational Interviews

An informational interview is the perfect opportunity to network with a professional and learn more about their career—and they can sometimes lead to job opportunities down the road. While the person you talk with may not be able to offer you a job themself, there’s a good chance they have other connections within their industry. Plus, you can ask questions you wouldn’t be able to ask in a job interview—like whether the person actually enjoys what they do.

Attend Employer Events

There’s a good chance your college has a career fair in the fall—and you should go. Career fairs are a great opportunity to meet potential employers and to learn about various fields you might be interested in. While you may not walk away from the fair with an internship lined up, you will walk away with more knowledge, and that’s valuable in and of itself. If there are networking events in the area—like information sessions with individual employers—check those out as well.

Start Applying (For Some)

Dependent upon what industry you’re interested in, internship opportunities for the summer may actually open up during the previous fall. In particular, finance and tech internships tend to open on the earlier side. And regardless of industry, if you’re looking to work for a large company, there’s a good chance that jobs will start opening up sometime between November and January.

While you’re still in school, check out Citation Machine for your citing needs. We can help you generate APA citations, build an MLA works cited, a Chicago style citation, and much more!

How to Stay on Top of College Applications

By Ella Chochrek

Staying organized during college application season can be difficult. Many students submit applications to as many as 15-20 schools, making it hard to keep track of deadlines. Although applications can often be submitted through the Common Application—which streamlines the process by standardizing many of the needed materials—some aspects of the process can still be confusing and challenging.

With that in mind, here are our tips on how to stay on top of your applications.

1. Create a List of Schools to Apply to

At some point during your junior year, start thinking seriously about what sort of school you might want to attend. Keep in mind grades and SAT/ACT scores throughout this process—create a list that includes only schools that you think you have at least a reasonable chance of getting into—but also consider what kind of college environment you see yourself in. Is it important to you that your school has a successful sports program? Do you want to be in an urban environment? Would you prefer to be close to home? These are the sorts of questions to keep in mind as you compile a list.

2. Decide Who to Ask for Recommendations

Figure out which teachers you want to have writing your recommendations early—and if possible, ask them by the end of junior year. Try to pick teachers from at least two different disciplinary fields; even if you’re planning to be an English major, don’t ask only English teachers for letters. If you have an especially good relationship with a coach or a club advisor who never formally taught you, that person might be a strong choice for a supplemental recommendation letter. Once your teacher has officially submitted the recommendation, write a nice letter thanking them (you can also give them a small gift, like homemade cookies or a scented candle).

3. Start Writing Your Essay Early

Writing college application essays can start to feel like a full-time job if you wait until the last minute. On top of the Common Application essay, you’ll likely have to write supplemental essays for at least some of the colleges to which you apply. Some of the supplements might just be a paragraph or two long, but you’ll want to leave time to write a thoughtful response—and preferably have someone look it over, whether that be a parent, a college advisor or an English teacher (an automated grammar checker might also be helpful). Try to write at least your Common Application essay as early as possible, and if there are any schools you know you wish to apply to, get a head start on those essays, too.

4. Save All Your Files in One Place

Nothing is more frustrating than not finding the essay you know you started writing. Make sure to create a folder with all of your essays in one place, whether that’s on Google Drive or on your computer hard drive. Even if you’ve already sent in an application, you may realize that your essay for one school can be repurposed to work for a prompt posited by another school. Another tip: Create a list with usernames and passwords for any college portals. Different schools use different naming conventions, so there won’t be one standardized username-password combination that works for every site.

5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Submit

This tip may be self-explanatory, but it’s also one of the most important pieces of advice: send in your applications in advance. No one ever anticipates having technology trouble, but everyone deals with faulty WiFi or outdated software from time to time. Prevent last-minute panic by submitting your applications at least a few days before the deadline.

Before you begin writing, consider strengthening your skills with BibMe Plus’s grammar guides. We cover the basics of the parts of speech, including defining what is a verb, examining possessive nouns, learning about reflexive pronouns, and more.

After you begin writing, you can cite sources quickly with BibMe’s tools for APA format, MLA format, and other citation styles. Try it today!

5 Ways We Accidentally Plagiarize

While it is clear that intentionally taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own is plagiarism, there are numerous other ways you can commit this act of cheating without even realizing it. Below are some of the most common ways students accidentally plagiarize in their papers, and what you can do to avoid making these common mistakes.  

Still not sure if you have accidentally plagiarized in your paper? Try our BibMe Plus plagiarism checker! It can help identify passages that may need to be cited. Bonus: It’ll then help you create an MLA or APA citation for you right then and there!

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to know what it is and how it happens in the first place. So, let the learning begin!

  1. Using the same essay you wrote for one assignment and handing it in for another assignment.

Even though this may not seem like cheating, using a paper you wrote for one class and handing it in for an assignment in another is in fact plagiarism. The specific term for this action is “self-plagiarism,” and many students don’t understand that it can get them in trouble. Even though the work is your own, you must still cite it: for example, if you reference a previous essay you wrote in the essay you’re currently writing. Be sure to include both an in-text citation and an entry in your works cited page. Give yourself the credit you deserve!    

  1. Incorporating text from a source into your own paper, changing one or two words, and providing a citation.

Using too many exact words from the source you’re referencing is a form of plagiarism. To make sure you do not do this accidentally, try writing out the idea that is expressed in the source, not the exact sentence or sentences. Then, rewrite that idea in your own words, and include a citation for the source. Being a good paraphraser is key to avoiding plagiarism.

  1. Using data presented by the author in their work, and only citing the author’s comments on the data.

You have to cite all information that has come from an outside source. Therefore, if you include data in your paper that another author has presented in their own work, be sure to cite the work by that author and the source where they found that data. This information can often be found underneath the dataset in a caption, or where the author mentions the data within the source.

  1. Including information from a personal communication, like an email, without providing a citation.

Personal communications, such as texts and emails, must be cited just like any other source if you’re using information from them in your research paper.  Even though they may not be considered “formal” sources, such as scholarly journals or books, they still another person’s thoughts or ideas, and therefore deserve an accurate citation.

  1. Having disorganized notes and outlines that are difficult to follow.

The most effective way of avoiding accidental plagiarism is to have an organized note-taking system that includes all of the quotes and information you want to include in your paper, as well as the sources in which you found those pieces of information. That way, when you’re ready to make your bibliography and hand in your paper, you know exactly which sources you need to make citations for. Try starting these notes at the very beginning of your paper-writing process, so you can be sure you haven’t left any important sources out.

Before you start your next paper, sharpen those writing skills with our grammar guides on verbs, determiners, what is a conjunction, adjectives, and other parts of speech.