Study Skills


Although these tips on research, preparation and writing paper assignments are scattered as needed throughout the sets of archived courses, they are gathered here for ease of reference.

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Paper Assignments

Paper Preparation
How to research your assignment - start by not reading. Find out what to do instead to have fun, get fully informed and yet maintain your independence!
Critical Reading
If you won't research thoroughly, at least read critically—tackle Charlton Heston!
Working Annotated Bibliography
For important or very-long assignments, this is a powerful way of organizing your research sources as you go. With this technique, you can come back to your work after a long gap and pick up again easily. You can track the development of your own thinking and the development of consensus (or not) in the field as a whole. Having this information at your fingertips will make you very impressive!
The Art of Persuasive Writing
How to construct a powerful paper that should get you a good grade even if you have to disagree with important people. How to use problems, disagreement, confusion, lack of information. How to begin and how to end.
Michelli's Grading Policy
All professors have grading policies. Few will tell you how they work in useable terms. My policy is organized to give you a checklist of fairly typical essential factors for most papers. Although these factors may be given different values by other professors, they usually combine to produce impressive results.

Useful Extras

The Thesis Statement
Often the first sentence in your paper, it is always the most powerful one. Get it right!
Paper Submission Requirements
Most professors have their own ideas on what a written assignment should look like when you hand it in. Mine are fairly typical and would work well where there are no other instructions. But—of course—check out what your own professor wants first!
Short Notes
Writing in "short notes" is a useful way of compressing information so that you can find it easily on the page. Short notes are used powerfully in paper outlines, and in exams when you run out of time. Many people already do this intuitively, others find it helpful to see examples.
Note Taking in Class
If you could read everything up in the course books, then lectures would be a waste of time. But many people find it very difficult to take notes during a lecture—here are some tips.
Simplified Grading Policy
For what it's worth, here is a simplified grading policy for very short papers (under 1,000 words).