Continued from page 1
PART #2: Compile and organize your sources.
Use old-fashioned vanilla file folders and mark them up, so you know which is what. Then get a file box to keep them handy.
PART#3: Determine which are most relevant features of your topic from its effects or imlplications in 3 different areas of study. For instance, if your topic reads, "Interesting stuff about World War II," then you will need to ask and study questions like, "Who did it cost, and how much did it cost them, to have this war?" Follow money (economics). Then, you might ask "How did this war change mindset or values of American society" (sociology or philosophy). Finally, ask maybe, "What inventions did Europeans develop to fight this war?" (technology).
By looking at your topic from at least three disciplinary viewpoints, you will gain a broad understanding of it, and find yourself -- somewhat suddenly -- asking GREAT questions about it.
PART#4: Find and choose a controversial feature of topic, and choose a side of issue.
Write down your viewpoint in one sentence. This we call your "thesis." Arguing this point well now constitutes your "objective." Ask question of your thesis, "How do you know this is case?" Ask this three times. Each time you ask it, give a brief answer in writing from one of your three areas you chose. Each answer must reflect views formed from a different area.
PART#5: Next, Re-read or skim your sources to develop an outline (in order to support your three points offered in defense of your thesis). Now pull out photocopied (or printed out) chapters from your IRT's and highlight and scribble all over them -- but keep it legible. Argue your case vigorously with your imaginary critic who knows what you know. Take his side and argue against your thesis best you can. Shoot it down, developing three criticisms. Some of these will already have circulated in print in your sources. Line them up. Then answer critic. Refute his three points. Your outline is nearly finished.
PART #6: Organize your notes into subgroups listed under branches of your outline. Draw a picture of flow of your argument and objections as though it were a tree, and label parts. Modify outline as needed. Add relevant subheadings (you will come across new info in your scribbling) under branches of outline. Fill out relevant details from your notes to form arguments for each section and subsection. Your rough draft is now complete.
PART#7: Rewrite your rough draft 5 times using our rules of good writing.
PART:#8 Study cleaned-up draft for logical errors in arguments. See our "Blogic For Writers" website for this; modify and strenghten your case. Use T Edward Damer's "Attacking Faulty Reasoning" for this too.
PART#9 -- Write your conclusion. This final paragraph spells out "what important point or points you have learned from doing all this hard work (e-search). Here, you make case for why your research has value. Also, here either write or rewrite your introductory paragraph to "hint at" (anticipate) concluding paragraph. Most of time it actually makes best sense to write your introduction LAST, since this way you write with a view of WHOLE work, which you did not have at beginning.
In introduction, hint at your conclusion, but don't give away whole story. This makes for a smooth and logical flow from start to finish, giving your work a stylish symmetry, where first part foresees end, and end reflects on beginning. All good stories have this symmetry.
PART #10. Do footnoting (or endnoting) and contstruct an extensive bibliography. Add title page and Table of Contents. See Kate Turabian's or an MLA manual online for this, and for grammar and style. You can also use resources we list in our sidebar.
You are DONE. Your paper or article "so totally rocks," and you get an "A." Your readers love you, and you then become wealthy and famous. Your actual mileage may vary, batteries not included, offer void where prohibited.
Christopher Brown has taught English and philosophy for two colleges, attended the California State University, and went to seminary in Orlando, FL. In 2004, he and two friends incorporated a business (Ophir Gold Corporation) that offers free services that help people.
You may find them at: http://scriberight.blogspot.com (Writing With Power) and http://ophirgoldcorp.blogspot.com (OGC's Free Web Traffic).