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What Did I Forget? - Fifteen Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Submit a Paper

  1. Does your paper fulfill the writing task assigned (or are you writing, for example, a summary when analysis was assigned)? Are you using the terms and/or the sources required?
  2. Does your paper begin with an interesting title and a compelling introduction in order to attract a reader's attention?
  3. Does your paper clearly state its thesis on page one or, for a longer paper, by the middle of page two?
  4. Does your paper provide sufficient support for the thesis? What kinds of evidence are and are not accepted in this discipline?
  5. In a research essay, do you support your thesis by synthesizing various sources rather than by summarizing one source per paragraph?
  6. Has your paper been organized in a logical manner? Have you checked the organization by outlining the paragraphs of the draft to be submitted? Have you created smooth transitions between paragraphs?
  7. Have you developed the main ideas fully? Have you emphasized the main ideas of your outline?
  8. Have you considered a reader's needs? In a persuasive paper, have you tried to anticipate and address a reader's concerns and objections?
  9. Does your paper need to present multiple perspectives on the subject? Does your paper need to examine the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective?
  10. Have you included short quotations within your own sentences and cited them properly using MLA, APA, or Chicago styles? Have you presented longer quotation as indented blocks?
  11. Have you cited all paraphrased information to avoid plagiarism?
  12. Have you proofread for common errors like "there/their," "it's/its," and "then/than" and vague words, such as "you"-who? and "this"-what?
  13. Does the paper reach a convincing and lively conclusion?
  14. In a research essay, have you presented all sources used (and no others) in the works cited list or on the references page if using APA style? Does the works cited include a variety of acceptable sources?
  15. Have you formatted your paper as the professor expects? Are there standard one-inch margins, 12 point type, double-spacing, and numbered as well as stapled pages? Do you need to include a title page or a particular heading?

Of course, you can't consider these questions if you are printing a last-minute draft at 2am, so honor the complex process of writing by starting early!