Basic information-Writing your paper
These are the simple steps to writing your paper.
- 1. Select a topic
- 2. Find sources
- The first thing you should do is figure out the kind of information you will need. Are you writing a 10-page paper? Five pages? Or are you making a documentary video that requires you to argue for or against a social issue, or is this a literature review of what others have written?
- Each of these requires different types (and amounts of) information.
- The best place to get a better understanding of your topic is via a topic overview and the best thing for this is an encyclopedia. The good thing about encyclopedias is that they can help you to become accustomed to the language & terminology of the field; either just for this paper or for more indepth material in your chosen field.
- 3. Take notes on line, by hand or via email to yourself.
- 4. Arrange your notes by topic
- 5. Write an outline
- 6. Write a first draft
- 7. Revise and re-write
- 8. Proofread
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Most word processing programs have an outline feature that lets you create a numbered outline. In Microsoft Word, for instance, you simply change to Outline view and use the Tab key to indicate the level of each heading. You can use this to develop your organizational structure for your paper.
- Timeline or chronological order: This organization structure makes sense if time is an element of the topic (or story). You should, though, avoid saying, “and then, and then, and then.” (Think about that scene at the Chinese drive-up in Dude Where’s My Car?) Also, don’t use this organization just because it’s easy; a chronological order should be appropriate to what you plan to say.
- Cause/effect: If your research falls into this pattern (“first this happened, which caused that”), consider a cause/effect approach.
- Problem/solution: Another common order is to present a problem first, and then detail a solution to that problem.
- Ranked by importance: If there isn’t a pattern to the data, you can arrange the ideas in ascending (or descending) order by importance.
- In addition to putting the ideas into order, evaluate your material for each of the main points you want to make:
Do you have details, examples, evidence to back up your assertions? If not, you may need to go back and do some additional research.
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