Stages of writing a semesterlong research paper in 1 week

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Hannah Cooper/File

The end of the semester is upon us, and with that comes the completion of the research paper that we put off for 14 weeks. We can’t plead ignorance, because we’ve known this was coming since the day we got the course syllabus. Nor can we feign victim status, considering the fact that we ignored the many work timelines that our GSI provided over the course of the semester. Thus, we find ourselves deep in the hallowed halls of Main Stacks on a cold December night. As the blood rushes through our highly caffeinated bodies, we curse the research paper gods above and seriously consider the option of dropping out of college altogether. It’s at this moment, when we’re at our lowest of lows, that we reflect back on the road of grief that got us to this point.

The first of seven stages was shock and denial. For us, this phase lasted roughly 14 weeks as we spent very nearly the entirety of the semester denying the fact that we would need to write an 18-page paper. We initially reacted to the news with a numbed disbelief, as the essay requirement was a gross violation of our inalienable right to a pursuit of happiness. Luckily, the shock of the news prevented us from being completely overwhelmed as we continued to deny the existence of the assignment altogether.

The second stage was pain and guilt. Once the shock wore off, we were bitten by an insufferable pain. The realization of just how much trouble we were in hit us like a ton of bricks at the start of week 15, and we’ll likely never recover.

Following that fun time, we resorted to anger and bargaining. We began to obsessively calculate how poorly we could do on this paper and still pass our class. When that bore a saddening result, we reached out to our college adviser to see just how important this class was for us to graduate. Apparently, the whole “requirements” thing is pretty non-negotiable.

Just when you thought the emotional turmoil was through, a period of depressed reflection began to take over. This entails lying on the floor of our room and dramatically sighing every 15 minutes until our roommate asks us what’s wrong. We then proceed to throw ourselves the world’s largest pity party as our poor roommate pretends to care about our eternal struggle.

The upward turn is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, as we pull ourselves from the depths of depression and finally get our poop in a group. We draft a paper outline. We glance at three or four possible sources. We create the page header. Heck, we go so far as to come up with a working title. We’re killing the research paper game.

We’ve yet to experience the last two stages of grief — reconstruction and acceptance. We’re very busy closely examining font options, but we’ll let you know if they ever come to pass.

Contact Amanda Chung at [email protected].

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