There are two words that will cause every student to cringe: research paper. It is not even that research papers are really that difficult. The problem is that they have a habit of hibernating in that part of the brain that says, “Nah, I'll work on you later” until the last possible moment and then you have to scramble to throw something together. It becomes a disastrous exercise in hair-pulling frustration in which you pump yourself full of energy drinks until finally at four in the morning you say screw it, this will have to do.
After many such experiences, I decided there must be a right way to go about writing a research paper — since I'd obviously gone about it the wrong way before — and I determined to find out exactly what that is. However, I felt I should first thoroughly understand the wrong way of researching; that way I would appreciate the right way even more. Although I already consider myself fairly well versed in the wrong way, I decided to ask some of my fellow students for their own failed research experiences.
The venue for my asking ended up being steak night at my friend's apartment, when I could question them all at the same time. The funny thing was, even before I could ask them about research, one of the guys walked in with his laptop, complaining about how he has a research paper due the next day. Apparently he had not only put off writing the paper, he had also put off reading the requirements for it. It turns out he was supposed to attend some sort of religious ceremony and write about it. Considering it was already almost midnight, I doubt he was able to succeed that night.
This worked to my advantage though, because it made a great segue into my own questions. Most of the responses I got were similar tales of academic negligence. The common themes were: procrastinating as long as possible, not doing required reading ahead of time, and not backing up completed work. One person misunderstood and actually gave some helpful research tips about utilizing government websites. I was fairly surprised by the thoroughness of that reply and even more surprised that I was friends with someone that responsible.