An outline is generally a way for you to really focus on the writing that you will do. Without a plan for the writing, you may find yourself veering off from the main topic into other territory that has no connection to your work at all. For many writers, writing a paper seems like a daunting task because there is no formal organization to the work. The outline delivers the ability to organize the writer’s thoughts and the paper’s format. Both of these together offer a directed effort that provides the writer with a way in to the writing. This is even more important in research because it helps the writer to take disparate bits of information and assemble them in a clear and cohesive manner. Thus, the intent of the writing is more clearly stated and the reader can enjoy and understand the work more fully. There are several forms of outlines.
For this course, we will use the following three: the topic outline, the sentence outline, the paragraph outline. In a normal research situation, you would generally choose only one of these to use in your process. However, so that you can fully understand how information can be built into a research process, we will investigate the first three by creating all three. This certainly sounds like a lot of work. However, the three will build upon each other in staircase fashion and will provide a way for you to write early sections of the research paper.
For each of these, you will create a complete thesis sentence. Your thesis sentence should incorporate the three or four supporting elements you plan to use in your paper. You will then create the outline portion by expanding on the three or four elements as illustrated in your book.
THE BEST WAY TO APPROACH THIS ASSIGNMENT
(1) Create the topic outline using all of your supporting elements. You have already created a proposal, so you simply extract the main elements (thesis and supporting elements) from that assignment and format them into a topic outline.
(2) Expand the succinct phrases from the topic outline into complete sentences to format the Sentence Outline. You should use the same thesis statement as in the topic outline and create complete sentences for each supporting element. NOTE* Remember—the sentences you create in the sentence outline should be topic sentences (sub-thesis statements). The topic sentences will be used to begin the paragraphs and the sentences that follow should support what the topic sentences state.
(3) In the paragraph outline, use the same thesis statement as before, then expand the sentences into paragraphs of 5-6 sentences. Detail is especially important in this assignment. Note that the first sentence of each paragraph is extracted from the sentence outline.
The proper format for this assignment is available in Week 2 Lecture Material.