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Copy of Outlining Your Research Paper
Transcript of Copy of Outlining Your Research Paper
Problem/Solution Research Essay
Tentative Thesis Statement
The first step in this process is to write a tentative thesis statement at the top of your page. To do this, write a statement that makes a claim of solution for a specific problem.
EXAMPLE: The most effective way a college student can reduce anxiety is to make and follow a weekly schedule that is both realistic and goal-oriented.
Decide how you will draw your readers' attention to your topic and research question. In this case, your research question is focused on a problem. You can draw attention to the problem in a number of ways:
1. A quotation that addresses the problem, directly or indirectly
2. A statistic or set of statistics that demonstrates the problem
3. A question that makes readers start thinking about the problem
4. An anecdote or scenario that illustrates the problem
5. Another way of compellingly emphasizing the problem.
Decide: How many paragraphs do you need to establish that there is a problem? Use the following categories or others as needed for your topic:
1 - Background/Existence of Problem (history)
2 - Possible Causes of Problem (analysis)
3 - Reasons Problem has not been (adequately) addressed (reflection)
4 - Other
After deciding on the paragraphs you will include, do the following:
Make a list of sentences, phrases, or subtopics you will explore in each paragraph.
Add ideas from your research. (HINT: It is extremely helpful to include sources and page numbers in parenthesis in your outline. This will make it easy to incorporate them naturally into your research essay.)
Who cares about a solution to this problem? Who should care, and why?
What outcome is likely if my proposal is adopted? if it is not adopted?
What is the most interesting/ surprising/ important idea coming from my research on this topic?
Why should my readers be convinced that my solution is an effective one?
Should I remind my readers of the hook I used in the introduction?
What is the final image/idea I want to leave in the minds of my readers?
What's the point?
Most of these hooks will only be one or two sentences long and may need to be followed by observations in response to the hook. In other cases, you will not need such observations but will need a transition from the hook to the thesis statement. Jot down "big picture" ideas that will help you transition from your hook to your thesis statement.
Tentative Thesis: The surest way a college student can succeed is to make and follow a weekly schedule that is both goal-oriented and realistic.
Hook - "The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business--or almost anywhere else for that matter." (Lee Iacocca, successful businessman in the car industry)
Transition - Success in college, like success in business, means using time well and being able to concentrate. Keeping and following a schedule that allows me to concentrate on my work is important. But I have to remember all the things I'm juggling as a college student as I'm planning a schedule.
Add Final Thesis of Problem/Solution here.
1 - Is it a Problem?
Statistics on Number of Students who drop out of college without a degree
Evidence from Students or Advisors who say it's a problem (interview/survey)
Study from my research (Cody and Hamilton, p. 233)
2 - Possible Cause of Problem: Distractions
Technology: iPhones, internet surfing (Sanders, p. 12)
Girlfriend/Boyfriend Trouble (my friend "Emily")
Job (Source? What percentage of college students work?)
3 - Possible Cause of Problem: Attitude toward College
Just a degree (no need to concentrate on learning as long as I pass)
Forgetting what degree will be used for (developing job skills; Sanders p.2)
Barriers to success for college students
Decide: How many paragraphs do you need to discuss the solution? Use the following categories or others as needed for your topic:
1 - Possible Solutions (as many paragraphs as solutions, ending with mine)
1 - Steps/Parts in my Solution (as many paragraphs as steps/parts, in order)
2 - Evaluation of Solution/s
3- Feasibility, other considerations
4 - Additional Support for Solution/s (if not already clear in the steps above)
After deciding on the paragraphs you need, do the following:
- Make a list of sentences, phrases, or subtopics you will explore in each paragraph.
- Add ideas from your research. (HINT: It is extremely helpful to include sources and page numbers in parenthesis in your outline. This will make it easy to incorporate them naturally into your research essay.)
[EXAMPLE] OUTLINE: College Success
Barriers to Success for College Students
4 - Part One: Make a Schedule
Specific Goals (meet assignment deadlines, schedule study time)
Realistic (time for social activities, family, job, etc. - schedule this too!)
Weekly (set schedule every week or make a new schedule each week?)
Cite Cody and Hamilton's study about the importance of WEEKLY goals (p. 323-25)
5 - Part Two: Eliminate or Minimize Distractions
Study Area (coffee shop for me, library carrell for Ashley, dorm room for Sarah)
Turn off cell phone (check messages later!)
Do NOT check Facebook until I've worked through one part of my assignment (or all of it!).
Tyler uses Facebook timeout as reward to motivate him (interview)
6 - Part Three: Develop a Learning Attitude
Skill-building, not just getting a grade (Foster, p.111)
Make a goal for each class, either a goal listed in the syllabus or my own personal goal --
Ashley sees each class as an opportunity, even if she doesn't really like it (interview)
7 - Feasibility, Other Considerations
This is an easy thing to do; any student can do it in 15 minutes a week at no cost.
Doing this will not create new problems just as bad as the problem that I'm trying to solve.
Students who don't care or are just in college to have fun probably won't find this approach helpful.