Organizing Research Papers

Imagine that your writing assignment is to explore symbolism in the childhood tale of "Little Red Riding Hood." In the samples provided to the left (click to enlarge), you will see several text boxes that contain random thoughts concerning events and symbols in the story.At first, you don't have to worry about which thoughts represent major topics and which represent subtopics.The first step in this method of organizing your work is to pour your thoughts onto paper in several text boxes.

It organizes the order and flow of each your essay’s body paragraphs. The first step in organizing any essay is to create a thesis statement.

Start by relisting the supporting points of your thesis and label each point with a roman numeral. You might have already developed one or have a good idea of the main argument in your essay.

Many students find it easiest to work with visual cues in the form of pictures and other images to get organized.

If you are very visual, you can use images in the form of "text boxes" to organize and outline an essay or big research paper.

Once you’ve completed a rough outline, you might once again be tempted to start your essay. First, you need to tackle the final step in the essay preparation process: a topic outline. Organizing after drafting occurs when an essay is organized from ideas already developed in a rough essay.

A topic outline is built around your rough outline. For some writers, developing an organized essay from a disorganized one produces the most creative results.To avoid frustration, you can start out with a mind dump and just dump your random thoughts onto paper.For this exercise, you should dump your thoughts onto paper in small text boxes.You can select, copy, and paste text into a new document to transfer the words into paper paragraphs.Organizing before drafting occurs when brainstorming is structured and focused into an organized essay.Any experienced writer will tell you that the organization of ideas on paper is a messy process.It takes time and effort to get your thoughts (and paragraphs) into a sensible order. You should expect to deconstruct and rearrange your ideas as you craft an essay or long paper.To make this process easier, place your thesis statement after the phrase “I believe that.” For example, you might want to write an essay about how golden retrievers make great pets, so you’d write: “I believe that golden retrievers make great pets.” Now your essay has a thesis.The phrase, “I believe that,” will eventually be removed in the final version of your essay, but for now this starter phrase will help you to organize the rest of your paper.After you've dumped all your thoughts onto paper, you can start to arrange your boxes into an organized pattern.You will be able to move your boxes around on the paper by clicking and dragging.

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