4 Ways to Have Fun Writing a Paper

We hear from our users all the time that writing a paper is tough. From thinking of your topic idea, to doing research, to outlining, and finally to writing and revising your paper, each step has its own challenges.  Just thinking about your assignment can be stressful, and that’s an issue. That anxiety alone can hinder your creativity to give you the spark you need to get started, or worse, you may just postpone your paper until you’re trying to scrape something together to meet your deadline.  Instead of thinking of writing a paper as painful, it can be quite the opposite. It can be fun! Here are four ways to gamify writing your paper. Not only will you enjoy the process, but you’ll hopefully produce some of your best writing. 

1. Play games regularly 

You’re trying to write more, but nothing is flowing. Eventually, you just can’t seem to write. We’re sure you know this feeling. The stress of writing a paper oftentimes leads to writer’s block.  One surprisingly great way to address this is to take regular breaks. That might mean for every 45 minutes or writing, you take a 15 minute break.  Make your break activity something fun. Try playing solitaire, which isn’t addictive, and allows you to get back to work. You’ll find that your mind is cleared and you’re ready to write again. 

2. Sing aloud

That probably sounds absurd, but hear us out. Singing taps into our creative processes and allows us to get past inhibitions. It can give you the creative spark you need to start writing and formulating your ideas.  Simply start singing about your topic. Don’t worry about how you sound. See what you end up singing about and record it. You might find some serious inspiration.  And if you don’t like singing, try rapping. Come up with a beat you like, and let your thoughts out. Not only might you be surprised by how good you sound, you’ll have fun and hopefully produce some good ideas.  With singing or rapping, you’re getting outside your comfort zone, which is exactly what you want. It leads to out of box thinking that can generate great ideas for your paper. 

3. Have a competition

Perhaps you're a competitive person. When playing sports or board games, you really want to win.  If you’re this type of person, try finding someone similar in your class. Make a friendly bet on reaching milestones in the paper. For example, the last to finish the outline has to buy lunch.  To really bring out some good writing, make a bet with a classmate on getting good grades on both your papers. For example, make a collective bet that your average grade will be an A-. Help each other out for each step of the paper. With that type of mutual support, not only will it lead to a good friendship, but also better writing. 

4. Try “Gone in 60 seconds” mode

Chances are you have a lot of strong ideas, but sentence structure, vocabulary, and grammar are getting in the way of expressing your thoughts.  Try free wheeling it. Give yourself 30 minutes, and set a goal of writing 500 words. Get all your ideas out like a car racing through the track. Don’t worry if your sentences flow or not. The whole purpose is to create an environment to get your ideas out, and to have fun while doing it.  Once you’re done, comb through the ideas you like and that can form the basis of your paper. And, if you’re able to write 500 words in 30 minutes, treat yourself for hitting the goal. 

Have a blast!

Writing a paper doesn’t have to feel like a slog. Make it fun and try some of these techniques. You might create some of your best work. Good luck!
Need to cite sources for your paper? Try BibMe citation tools to easily create references in MLA citation formatAPA referencing, and Chicago manual of style. ...

Big news! APA 7 is here! See what’s new.

It’s been 10 years since a new edition of APA style was released, and in the fall of 2019, we finally said hello to the 7th edition of the Publication Manual. Frequently the style of choice for students of psychology and social sciences, this citation format is one of the most popular on BibMe.org. The staff at BibMe is in the process of making updates to our citation style library, and we will be offering APA 7 as an option in the coming months. While you wait, however, we are happy to provide you with a list of what we believe to be the most important changes in the new edition of APA format. What’s new in APA 7th edition citation and reference list guidelines: - Do not include the label “DOI” when making website/web resource citations. - DOIs can now be made as URLs, i.e., https://doi.org. - Do not include the format of the ebook in your citation, e.g., “Kindle.” - Do not include the location of the publisher in your citations. e.g., “New York: Scholastic” would be listed as simply “Scholastic.” -When making an in-text citation for a source that has more than 3 authors, write the first author’s name and use the abbreviation “et al.” to represent the rest. Example: (Fox et al., 2016) -Do not include the label “Retrieved from” before URLs in a website citation. What’s new in APA 7th edition paper formatting guidelines: - Do not include the words “Running Head” on the title page. You now only need the page number and the abbreviated title at the top of the page. - “They” is now endorsed as an option for a gender neutral pronoun. To find out more about the newest version of APA style, see the official announcement from the American Psychological Association here (BibMe is not associated with the the APA) There are more than just APA resources available on BibMe.org! Check your paper for unintentional plagiarism and grammar errors, or check out our popular citation guides for MLA, Chicago format, and more! ...

Types of Plagiarism Infographic: What You Need to Know

We’re all responsible researchers, correct? We create perfect APA citations. Our MLA formatting is on point. Chicago style citation? We can do it with our eyes closed. We compose original essays. We’re all amazing writers. We’re...dreaming. You know the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Let’s face it, writing a research paper is tough. From start to finish, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. From note-taking, to finding credible sources, learning how to write an annotated bibliography, citing, formatting, it’s a lot! The pressure of putting together a high-quality paper is stressful and time-consuming, which is why some students feel the need to take shortcuts. Those shortcuts, which at the time may seem like clever hacks, can turn into pretty serious consequences. A disappointing grade, failed course, even expulsion, are just a few of the negative consequences that could happen by taking the easy way out.  If it’s your goal to be a responsible researcher (and we sure hope it is!), then it’s important for you to be aware of the various types of plagiarism. Some forms of plagiarism are blatant and obvious. Some are so subtle that you may not even realize they’re forms of plagiarism. We’ve put together a colorful, explanatory infographic that highlights the 5 main types of plagiarism. We even take it a step further and explain how to prevent each type. Read through each form of plagiarism, learn how to prevent it, and feel secure and confident with submitting a paper that is plagiarism-free! Types of plagiarism

Looking for more resources? Take a peek at the BibMe grammar guides on topics like what’s a conjunction, reflexive vs intensive pronouns, varieties of nouns, and more!  ...

A Better BibMe: Improved Plagiarism Checks, Easier Citing Process

Remember when BibMe.org was only about citations (APA reference, MLA citation, etc.)? Today, we’re still helping students crush the citing process, but we’ve also become a go-to tool for writing and plagiarism checking—and we’re not slowing down! After this summer and in the coming school year, BibMe tools are going to be better than ever! Read on to see what good developments are in store:

Faster plagiarism checks for your papers

Nobody likes waiting, especially if you’re under a time crunch and that paper you’re scanning is due in an hour. You can’t make time slow down, but we’ve sped up the BibMe Plus plagiarism checker: It’s now three times faster than before! Try it out and see for yourself.

Wait, you check against how many sources?

It’s simple logic: The more sources your paper’s plagiarism checker can access, the lower your chance of being flagged for accidental plagiarism. Luckily for you, the BibMe plagiarism tool now checks your paper against billions of sources with technology similar to Turnitin! That’s right, not hundreds, thousands, or even millions—it’s billions.

Coming to grammar checking: Easier navigation & Purdue OWL grammar knowledge

Two exciting changes are coming to the BibMe grammar checker. First, the grammar card experience is getting a big make-over! The new look will make it easier for you to navigate and review the great suggestions you receive.  Second, knowledge and sentence examples from the well-known Purdue OWL will be added to our grammar suggestion cards. The extra information on each card will help you make informed decisions about your paper.

Updated citation flow and feel for the fall

Sometime in the fall, the citing tool on BibMe.org is going to become a single-page app! That doesn’t sound immediately exciting, but this means that your citation workflow will be smoother and more efficient—and who doesn’t like that? 
Do you know what is a determiner? Could you give an adjective definition if asked? How is a personal pronoun used? Find out the answers to this and more by reading through the BibMe grammar guides. ...

4 Epiphanies All New Graduate Students Have

Your first semester of graduate school is even more exciting than your first semester of undergrad. You meet your professors and fellow students and start brainstorming ideas for awesome research projects. You get your shiny new laptop and student ID, and you start planning your daily routine: coffee run, running to morning classes, more coffee, running a lab, more coffee, studying in the library, more coffee. Then reality hits and everything you thought you knew changes. You’re totally out of touch and overwhelmed. Your desk becomes a sea of papers. And you have a few epiphanies:

Speaking of papers, did you know that the BibMe paper checker can scan your (or your students’) papers for grammar mistakes and accidental plagiarism? There are also resources that can help your students create APA citations and MLA citations.

Everything you knew about productivity is a lie

Sure, undergrad is hard, but it’s not oh-God-I-have-to-read-1000-pages-by-tomorrow-and-I-still-have-to-grade-papers hard. You realize that time is a construct, but sadly not one that you can bend to your needs. And your tried-and-true study methods don’t work because it takes you five times as long to read the same passage of assigned reading. However, you realize you can now become a master of time management, and you develop a talent born of necessity to juggle a million things at once. You’re adaptable and capable, skills that are coming in handy now.

There’s actually a lot you don’t know

Aced all your undergrad classes? Graduated with honors? Yes, you learned a LOT and that’s what helped you get to grad school in the first place! However, now that you’re in graduate school, you’re regularly reminded that you know nothing. New lab procedures, conference-level presentation skills, knowing how to apply for funding, using advanced research skills and resources, writing to journal standards … there’s a lot to learn! However, it’s invigorating to try new things and get smarter! You try things out, accept constructive feedback on your work, and start to become a star graduate student.

You are your own best resource

At the mixer, you made good friends who promised you that you’d totes do that research project together and that they’d share class notes with. Then, you all get caught in the storm that is grad school work and it gets harder to connect since you’re all struggling to stay afloat. However, you’ll learn to rely upon your own skills and smarts, and become a strong, self-sufficient individual.

You’re pretty awesome

You’ve worked hard and studied harder, and you become a time-warping productivity master, able to juggle everything that grad school throws at you. Insults roll off your back, while you take constructive criticism and use it to make your work better. You realize your professor has become your mentor and that you can truly excel at academic work. Best of all, you feel good about yourself and ready to take on the world — after you catch a few minutes of sleep, finally. ...

TA 101: Survive and Thrive

You check your email, expecting more of the same: that particular type of academic spam that includes pleas to submit your work to some unheard-of journal, reminders from your online course, and Dropbox notifications. And then you see it, that most delightful of all subject lines: “Offer: Assistantship Funding.” Phew!

So, you’ve been accepted as a TA. Congratulations! You celebrate for a hot second when it dawns on you: you’re about to be thrown into a classroom with 100+ students who will be coming to you with endless questions; most of which were answered in the syllabus. They’ll be submitting dozens of papers that you’ll have to collect and grade. What if you actually don’t know enough about the subject to write a paper yourself, let alone assistant-teach the class? Eek!

Relax. You got this! You were selected for a reason and the fact you’re reading this article means you care enough to do some research. Here are a few handy TA tips to help you not only survive but thrive.

As a TA you’re going to be proofing papers - lots of papers! Get help from the BibMe plagiarism tool to check for unintentional plagiarism in your students’ papers.

Learn your students’ names

I know this seems impossible. There are hundreds of people in the class and half of them are named Ashley or Brian. But it will make your life easier if you know their names. You’ll be better able to track attendance and know who’s doing well and who needs help. Plus, it makes you look like you know what you’re doing when you greet them by name. It makes handing back graded papers easier, too.

If you’re like me and have a terrible memory, use these tried-and-true mnemonic tricks to learn their names:

  • Do an icebreaker that will give you interesting facts about them. You’re more likely to remember a person’s name when you know something about them.
  • Look for patterns. Perhaps Brendan, Brandon, and Brian sit next to each other in row three. Don’t let their similar names befuddle you; use it to your advantage by identifying row three as the “B” row.

Be super-organized

Spreadsheets are your friend! Try not to be scared of them. They’re super handy for tracking attendance, grades, due dates, and pretty much anything you can think of. There are a lot of online videos and resources to help if you’re new to using Excel and its more advanced features.

You should be the person whom both your fellow students and the instructor rely upon to know the answers. Make it a point to learn the syllabus, memorize due dates, and have everything at hand. As you know, we students have dozens of assignments and grades to keep track of. We have brain farts. Wouldn’t you want your TA to be able to immediately tell you when the essay is due or what they made on the last pop quiz?

Stick to the books

If you’re tasked with leading discussions or making study guides, rely as heavily upon the instructor’s chosen material as you can. In a typical week, you and your students will have to read hundreds of pages for classes; that leaves little room in our brains for any other new material. Even if you have an article that perfectly illustrates Concept X, if it’s not on the syllabus, leave it at home.

However, by all means, use creative, visual ways to communicate information. Leading a study group? Design an infographic that shows this week’s material using a free tool like Canva. Giving a guest lecture? Make a Prezi that breaks down the concepts.

Lead by example

You overslept, your cheap car broke down, you got held late in another class. It happens. But you simply can’t be late as a TA. Your fellow students will betray you: while it’s okay for them to be late (at least, to them), it’s never okay for you to be late, and they will call you out on it. Do everything you can to ensure that you can be on time for the class you TA. I once missed the bus, so I ran two miles to be at the class I was TAing on time. Anything is possible with adrenaline.

In addition to being timely, you should be attentive and professional. During class sessions, no checking your phone, no working on other projects, no multi-tasking, period. I know, it sucks. But as soon as you divert your attention from the lesson, everyone else follows. Don’t be that guy (or girl).

Do your own work first

Wait, what? you say. I’m being paid to TA, so I’ve got to prioritize that! Yes, you do, but your own coursework needs to be your top priority. That’s because there will always be more TA work, and it’s easy to fall into a pattern where you never stop working on TA duties while your own work suffers.

By the same token, stick to your office hours. That’s your time to answer questions, grade papers, and do everything you’re assigned to do. Yes, you’ll need to pull some extra hours to get it all done, but when possible, you should set clear boundaries with your students. Don’t answer their messages at 4 a.m. Don’t meet with them outside of office hours. Respect your time (it makes time management easier, too).

When things go sour, don’t wait to address it

I know you’re not like this, but some students are simply awful. They feel entitled to A’s and they’re abusive toward anyone who holds authority — especially TAs, because they think you’re a punching bag. And you’re not!

Get the instructor involved at the first sign of a problem student. Don’t be like me: I waited until the problem student cornered me and the other TA in my office and became physically aggressive to let the supervising professor know. By that time, our academic careers were on the line because the student, who hadn’t turned in a single assignment and still expected an A, had written to the dean asserting that we were treating her unfairly. Get your side of the story straight before it gets to that point. (For the record, it turned out fine for us.)

There you go: a handy 101 course in how to survive and thrive as a TA. In a nutshell: be organized, be proactive, be cool. Remember: you got this.

No matter the discipline you are supporting, BibMe.org has the right citation style for your works cited page. MLA citation format, APA referencing, and Chicago manual of style are covered in depth with plenty of examples, to help you and your students cite it right the first time.