Where to Begin
You now have a specific start date, a specific end date, and possibly some mini due dates. The next step is to determine whether it is easier for you to work your way forward or backward through the schedule. You may discover that you have a preference, or you may find it makes no difference. Unless you would rather do it differently, start with the date you can begin work on the project and work your way through, keeping an eye on the due date. It will usually take a few tries before you come up with a schedule that allows enough time for each task. You can adjust the schedule to allow for either more or less time once you have it tentatively written down.
What to Schedule
Look at the topic you have decided on, and figure out what steps you need to take to complete the project. Use the chapters in this book as a guideline for what is required. Then mark the final due date on the Research Paper Schedule in this book or on a calendar. Add any mini due dates your instructor has given you. Starting from today's date, write in every step that you will have to complete. Give yourself sufficient time to complete each step, and spread out the tasks through the days you have available. Keep this schedule in a convenient place so that you can refer to it frequently to ensure that you are on track.
Other Homework and Commitments
When making up this schedule for your paper, you need to take into account other parts of your life. First is the fact that your research paper is not the only homework you have. You probably are taking other classes that require regular homework. You may have large projects to complete during the same time period for another class, and you may have exams to study for. You need to allow time for this other work. Even if you don't have a clear idea of how much other homework you will have, you can probably make an educated guess about how much time it takes every night, on average, to finish your work. You can also ask your other instructors if they plan to assign something that might coincide with your research paper.
You are likely to have other commitments that you should build into your schedule. Do you have a job? Are you on a sports team, or do you participate in a recreational activity on a regular basis? Have you already made plans with family and friends that you should honor? Be sure to consider all commitments that you already know about when you make your schedule. After considering these other commitments, you might realize that there will be days when you have no time at all to work on your research paper. There is no point in thinking that you will make progress that day if it is just not possible.