Tips for College Students: How to Write a Mini Research Paper

There are a few main differences between a regular research paper and a mini one. You might not have had experience with writing mini papers yet, because they aren’t too common as far as assignments go. Most teachers assign the longer versions or regular papers. Since you have to write a mini one, you might be wondering where to start. The biggest part of homework stress is from not knowing what to do. If you can’t start or you end up being stuck, you’ll feel frustrated and won’t be able to do a good job for the rest of the mini research paper. Here are some ways you can tell a mini paper is different.

Mini vs. Regular Research Papers

For the most part, mini papers are the same as regular papers, only shorter. Here are a few more key differences:

  1. Mini research papers don’t need a conclusion. You still need to introduce your topic, and then discuss it and back up your point of view in the body, but don’t bother summarizing things at the end.
  2. You also don’t need a documentation or bibliography page. If you’ve used any either sources in the paper, put the credit in brackets like this (author name, date) or refer to instructions from your teacher.
  3. There are fewer words to write! Usually mini papers have a shorter required word count, even without the need for a conclusion and bibliography, the introduction and body parts are shorter, too.

Now that you can see what you don’t need to do for a mini paper, you can plan your time accordingly. Take a good look at your teacher’s guidelines and make sure you know what he or she is expecting from you. Then, look at your schedule and see how much time you have after work shifts, before classes, or on weekends. You’ll need to make time for these things:

  • Outlining
  • Researching
  • Organization
  • Writing the first draft
  • Time away from it
  • Reread and editing
  • Double checking research
  • Getting other people’s opinions
  • More editing
  • Proofreading

As with any essay or paper, a mini research paper needs to be well edited. You can often miss mistakes because you’re so used to reading your own words and gloss over them. It really does help to have another person read it, so don’t skip those last few steps.

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