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Answered By: Jeneen LaSee-Willemssen
Last Updated: Mar 07, 2016     Views: 240

While looking at papers written by other students can help you overcome initial writer's block, it can be a risky thing to do.  It can easily lead to plagiarism and academic misconduct, no matter how honest your intentions might be.  It can also limit your creativity.  If you try to pattern your work after someone else's paper, you are possibly stopping yourself from thinking outside the box.

Suggestions for what to do instead:

  • Read and reread the directions to the assignment. 
  • Break apart the instructions to highlight key elements or features that your final paper should contain.
  • Ask your instructor for clarification on the assignment and how it will be assessed.
    • Ask specific questions rather than, "I don't get it!" 
    • Summarize what you think is being asked of you, and inquire whether you're correctly understanding the assignment and expectations.
  • Trust yourself.  For many assignments, such as research papers and written analysis, there are many correct answers. 
  • Check out the online Writing Guide, for tips and suggestions for completing common assignments.