The following guidelines have been provided to help you plan and write a good paper.

Preparing to Write

Reading/Researching your topic
Reading in preparation for your paper needs to be approached in a systematic and directed manner.   First, you will want to get a general understanding of the topic by using your lecture notes and the textbook.   This will help you put into context the more specialized journal article(s) that you subsequently read.

Organizing your ideas
Prior to actually sitting down to write your paper, it is a good idea to create an outline of the topics you want to address and the question you are asking.   An outline can be a very useful tool and will help you remain focused on the topic and critical points when you are writing.

Writing the paper

After you have created your outline for your paper, you will want to write your first draft.   Put your ideas on paper in paragraph form.   However, you don’t want to be overly concerned with punctuation and grammar in this early stage.   Instead, your early goal should be to put your thoughts on paper and to create a logical flow of ideas.  

The next step is to make any necessary corrections to your first draft.   Then put it aside for a few days before re-reading it again.   Usually, after a little time away from the subject, and with a fresh perspective, you will want to make additional changes to your draft.   For example, something that you thought was perfectly clear when you read it may not seem quite so clear when you re-read it.   In addition, you may want to change the sequence of your ideas, and you will probably find some redundancies that can be eliminated.

Writing a good paper will usually involve preparation of several drafts before a final product is achieved.   This is true for everyone including professional writers, college professors and developmental psychology students. Therefore, there is good reason to begin preparing for your paper well in advance of...