Submitted and Successful: 3 Final Steps Before Turning in Your First Paper

Photograph of Princeton University in the rain, with many students walking, biking, and scootering to class holding umbrellas or wearing rain jackets
These rainy, gloomy days are perfect for colorful umbrellas and cozy paper-writing sessions.

“Did I include a scholarly conversation? Where is the motive of my piece? Do I even have a thesis?!” The “Submit” button on Canvas can stir worrisome thoughts as it may seem permanent or stressful. The goal of this post is to walk you through a few final steps you can take to ensure that everything is in check and ready to go, so that you don’t feel like something is missing once turning in your assignment. These points are by no means the end all be all, but you may use them to help you feel more confident handing in your final product. Thus, without further ado, here are 3 final steps to follow before submitting your research paper.

  1. Re-read the Assignment

Sometimes we tend to get carried away from the prompt without even realizing it. Therefore, as simple as it sounds, I always skim through the prompt or assignment one last time to confirm that I checked all the boxes that the Professor is looking for. I specifically look for the citation style requested, how they would like us to submit it (i.e. through Canvas or over email), any word count restrictions, and the exact time it is due. You likely already know this information, but it can’t hurt to triple check if you have time!

  1.  Read Your Final Paper Out Loud

Your roommate may question why you are reciting philosophy premises to yourself in the the mirror, but I assure you that this step is worth the embarrassment. I have found reading my entire paper word for word to be incredibly helpful as I have picked up on grammatical errors and strange sentence structures that I would not have otherwise noticed. For example, I have accidentally written “the” twice in a row (see sentence 1 of this paragraph), which many of you may not have noticed right away, and I have mislabeled numbers on PSETs before as well. This step ensures that your paper is accurate.

  1. Confirm You are Submitting the Correct Copy

Make sure that you label the newest version of your document, let’s say your R3, as something different than your previous drafts. I tend to choose something drastically different. So, if I called my draft “D3 Ryan Champeau,” I may label my final draft as “R3 Submission – Ryan CC Champeau.” Submitting the wrong paper could be an extremely stressful situation and this will leave you feeling sure that you will never do it.

Once again, I understand that these steps may seem obvious, but you truly can rely on this 3 step process to make sure you feel confident when pressing that “Submit” button. Whether it was my SPIA Junior Papers or my Writing Seminar drafts, I live by this 3 step academic process. I hope that these tips can help you feel more confident in your submission too. And don’t forget step 4: the honor code!!!!!

— Ryan Champeau, Social Sciences Correspondent