Tips on Developing a Research Paper Timeline

Tips on Developing a Research Paper Timeline
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Research papers can be short or long, having different levels of complexity. There are no universal rules that would fit all the projects. However, some guidelines will help you stay on track while preparing, researching, and writing. We recommend that you always plan your work and devote enough time to writing, completing every stage of your work. Learn more about a research paper timeline with

First, write down your due date in your electronic calendar, planner, or a wall calendar. Determine how much time youк library work should take, using the rule of thumb:

  • Spend 50% of your time reading and researching;
  • Spend 10% of your time making your research and organizing the information;
  • Spend 40% of your time writing and formatting.

Researching and Reading

  • 1 week for short papers (1-2 sources);
  • 2-3 weeks for 10-page papers;
  • 2-3 months for a thesis.

Researching and reading is the first stage. It would be great if you could start working on your paper when having in place all the necessary sources. However, you have to look for articles and books that are related to your topic and can help you support your thesis statement. Fortunately, you can find some sources at the local library. If you cannot find the necessary sources in the library, you can use an interlibrary loan. However, keep in mind that it will take some time.

Take your time and try to collect as many sources as possible. You may realize that some articles and books don’t provide valuable information for your topic so you will likely need to visit the library a few times. The good news is that the bibliographies in your sources can help you find more relevant materials.

Organizing and Making Your Research

  • 1 day for short papers (1-2 sources);
  • 3-5 days for 10-page papers;
  • 2-3 weeks for a thesis.

We recommend that you read each of your sources twice. First, you will memorize the most important information. Make your notes to use the key facts when writing.

Once you’ve read your sources, read them again quickly, selecting pages that contain passages that you can use for quotes. We suggest that you use sticky note flags with keywords.

Writing and Formatting

  • 4 days for short papers (1-2 sources);
  • 1-2 weeks for 10-page papers;
  • 1-3 months for a thesis.

A few students manage to write a good paper on their first attempt. We recommend  that you pre-write, write, and rewrite your drafts to make sure that your paper looks as good as possible. You may even rewrite your thesis statement a few times, making it more focused and choosing the right word choice.

Don’t get stuck when writing one section of the paper, especially if it’s the introduction. Quite often, students write their introduction last, when the rest of the paper is completed so they understand what to highlight in the introduction.

Don’t waste your time formatting citations when writing your first draft. Figure out what your paper will look like, polish it, and once it’s ready, start working on the citations. Make sure to include all your sources in the Bibliography section. You can also order a sample essay on and use it as a source of inspiration.

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