Creating Your Schedule

You now know why you need to schedule and what could happen if you fail to do so. Next you need to gather information so that you can create your schedule.

It is imperative that you know the exact due date. Don't rely on what you think you heard, and don't rely on the word of others. Be sure you have it in writing or get it directly from your instructor. This is vital. You can't afford to plan your project based on the wrong date.

Know the Due Date

The paper's due date is one of the most important pieces of information given to you, but it's also one that's easy to miss. Without this date, you will have no way of knowing whether you are on track to finish on time.

Your first task is to double-check the due date. You may have written it among your notes if the instructor gave the assignment orally. If not, look at the printed information you were given. This information may contain details about the project's requirements, including the minimum length, what the project must contain, and how it should be formatted or presented. You should be able to find the due date among this information. The course syllabus that you received at the beginning of the term may list major assignments, including your research paper, and the due dates for them. If you have checked all these places and are still unable to find the due date, ask your instructor.

Write It Down

Make it a point to record the due date on the Research Paper Schedule in Appendix A. You also should record the date on a calendar or in an agenda book or PDA as a continual reminder of how much time you have remaining to work on your project. A calendar that's printed on a wipe-off board can be ideal for scheduling, because you can easily make any changes as you go along. The format you use for your schedule is a matter of personal preference. What's most important is that you must write down your schedule in order to stay accountable to it. A schedule in your head is not concrete enough to keep you committed.

What if my instructor tells me she wants to see something that I have scheduled for later?

Each instructor does things slightly differently. If yours wants to see something by a certain date, then make sure you have it ready in some form by that date. You can always make revisions later.

Mini Due Dates

Some instructors assign mini due dates. They may want to see your rough draft by a certain date. Some may ask to see your research notes. Others will only give you the final due date and not look at any of your work other than the finished product. No matter how much you may want to work through the assignment on your own, these mini due dates are to your advantage. They help you to motivate yourself, which is especially valuable if this is an area you have trouble with. They also ensure that you are on the right track with your project, both in terms of the type of information you are including and the time frame in which you are completing everything. Some instructors will give you helpful suggestions after they see the work you have done, particularly regarding sources for further information and extra details you might want to include. Make sure you know each of these mini due dates. They are just as important as the final due date.

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