You know that feeling. The one where you have a paper due tomorrow, the Writing Center is closed, it is way too late to email your professor with any questions, and all you have is a thesis statement. You’re not even sure if your thesis argument is well written, but at this point you just have to accept it.
Let’s first pretend your thesis statement is as follows:
“Historians have always debated the true cause of the start of the Civil War.”
It isn’t the best thing you have ever written, but it is a start! And the best thing about thesis statements is you can tweak them constantly as you write your paper.
Soo…about writing this paper… Unfortunately you cannot just turn in your argument and pray that your teacher will agree with you. The first place you can start is the most obvious! The Hoover Library–but wait, it’s three in the morning it’s past midnight so they must be closed. Well lucky for you, the library has its own website with a great place to search for books and articles that McDaniel College owns, as well as those available from other locations.
If you just click here: www.hoover.mcdaniel.edu, you can do a bunch of this research at any point of the day, from anywhere!
Click here for a more narrowed search:
Once this site has loaded the easiest option for you to click on is “Academic Search Complete.” This option allows you to search multiple databases all at once, which will widen your search and get you the best articles and journals for your paper. Be sure to check off “Scholarly Journals” and “Full Texts” to find the best articles for your research.
After you have completed all of those steps, type “causes of the American Civil War” into your search bar. Make sure you are specific in what you type into the search bar so you can narrow down the search even more. From there, the Internet does all of the work for you by finding your articles. Unfortunately, it can’t read them for you.
If your search looks like this, celebrate! You did it right.
Not let’s imagine you read a lot of useful articles. You probably read so many articles that you are overloaded with a lot of research that may not even help you. Here is where you will have to go back to the original thesis you have already decided on. As said before, your thesis may have to be changed.
As you researched the start of the Civil War, you realized that your thesis statement isn’t exactly what you want to argue anymore. Now you have to make a tough decision: keeping your body paragraphs or rewriting your thesis. Let’s be honest, the body of your paper is awesome, for a first draft, and you know it. The only thing to do now is tweak your thesis and make it fit what you’ve already got written!
Here is your thesis revision:
“Although historians have always debated the cause, the American Civil War started because of the debate on slavery and states’ rights.”
Perfect. Now you realize that this is what you have been trying to say all along. You jump up and do a weird little dance, hoping that your roommate is still passed out and that she didn’t see. You decide that you’re going to go to sleep before the sun comes up and they start cutting the grass at 6 a.m. outside of your room, and then you can proofread before you hand it in.
You, my friend, have done it. Eight perfect pages in one evening. Hopefully, you’ll never procrastinate again…but if you do, we’re always here for you!
For even more advice on this topic, check out our helpful presentation about next steps.