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But it actually does help, especially in the early stages of your paper, by forcing you to come to terms with what you want to say about your topic. If you find that person, the path to the information you will need to graduate will be smoothly paved, and may even turn out to be full of interesting roadside attractions. Each page of your term paper should have around 1-3 references per page, as a general rule of thumb.It can also show you where you will need to apply your research time, and reveal major deficiencies in your approach to your topic. So figure for ten pages, about 10-15 references and so on.
Use it on your first draft to get your bearings, or on your final draft to check the way you’ve organized your paragraphs. Many papers may have more than that, but if yours has less, you probably skimped in the endless hours in the library department.
Even better, papers should draw on a variety of sources, which usually boils down to books, essays, journal articles and/or magazines.
By the time you finish your research and writing, you might well be genuinely sick to death of your topic (ask any graduate student who's just completed a dissertation! But if you're bored when you start, you've already defeated yourself, and turned a potentially interesting assignment into yet more drudgery. If cloning is too broad for a five page paper, what about cloning Elvis?
Make sure that you find this topic genuinely interesting, or find some aspect of it that is especially cool. If your topic is way too broad, try homing in on some part of that topic, and exploring that area in more depth.
Magazines like Time and Newsweek often have good focused articles, but they tend to be laden with unsupported opinions, and written to cause a sensation rather than to reveal the truth. For raw data and spirited opinion, government documents can't be beat.
Your tax dollars fund a mountain of research, good, bad, and indifferent, and the results of all of that research end up in the government documents department of the library.
If you get zip, try thinking of alternate terms, synonyms, slang etc. Usually you get way too much, because in our haste to get everything online, we've indexed everything to death.
So a search on alligators turns up everything from wildlife to recipes.
It can take several weeks to get the material you need from another library.
As the semester progresses, and more students and faculty gradually realize they also need this service, it quickly slows down under the load.