Presearch and finally starting

A Borough of Manhattan Community College student told us about his experiences in writing a long essay on liberalism in the 1960s as part of a scholarship application. He found that once he got a foothold in his research it was easier for him to keep going:

“It was tough. Because in the beginning I put it off, I’d say about maybe three times. Because with schoolwork and then doing that on the weekends and I worked… It didn’t fit my schedule. But I started researching more. And then, as I printed out articles and I learned more, I got intrigued more by it. So, I just made a schedule for myself and fit it into my schedule.”

Starting with the college library website, this student was able to dig into his research, taking advantage of his commute time to read articles. He also describes using citations to find additional sources on his topic:

“And I just started printing out a couple of articles. And when I was in the… I take public transportation, so I started reading them while I was in the bus. And I started highlighting things that I thought were important. And then I would look at the references and I would start looking at those books. So at the end of it I was taking home large amounts of books.”

We heard from several CUNY students that they start writing their papers longhand before heading to the computer, as did this student:

“I would start writing on the legal pad. I think it’s easier to edit it that way. And then, once I had a paragraph I thought was important, I would write it down [[emphasis]], I would start using the computer.”