Diatribe: The Dreaded “Research Paper” And My Arch Nemesis “The Bibliography”.
Does anyone else remember the dreaded “research paper”? Index cards and card catalogues and the Dewey Decimal System have become virtually obsolete. Students today have untold sources of data and information that those of past generations never dreamed of. In seconds, they can find information on the internet that would have taken hours, or even days, to seek out in the stacks of a library. They can even have sample essays and research papers prepared for them online by places like Oppapers.com.
In high school, I wrote a long report on King Louis XIV of France. I worked on it for an entire semester. I remember dozens and dozens of note cards that I would organize and reorganize again and again, trying to get all of my facts in just the perfect order.
It started with an “outline” and ended with the dreaded Bibliography. Oh, how it became my arch nemesis. “Did I use this quote?” … “I think I took that section out.” … “Wasn’t that passage in more than one book?” I questioned myself constantly. The format had to be consistent and all the indentions had to line up.
And all of this in the age of the typewriter. Yes, I had a typewriter. No, it wasn’t an IBM Selectric. It was an old typewriter with a bell. I’ve always been a pretty good typist so I would whiz right through page after page with very few mistakes. Of course, the typos that I did make were always found on the lower third of the page which required my OCD self to start the entire page over. None of that Correct-O-Type for me. I found that stuff impossible to use. And forget about liquid paper. I don’t know how people were able to realign the pages enough to fix their mistakes.
The night before that final paper was due, I stayed up half the night making adjustments, adding page numbers and sorting through my notes. I had purchased a perfect report cover and used a rather fancy photograph of King Louis XIV on the cover page. And then I overslept. So, after working on it for months, my research paper was submitted late … slipped under the door of my teacher’s office between classes. That’s probably why I got an A-minus.
EPILOGUE: I’ve forgotten everything that I ever learned about King Louis XIV … so don’t ask.