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Assignment Planning

Get Organized

While it's important to approach your initial research with an open mind, make sure you organize what you find into a coherent set of notes that is relevant to your assignment.

It is at this stage that you should start an outline, sorting your findings into a few key themes or sub-topic areas that will support your central argument.

"Developing an Outline", Purdue OWL

Take the Time, Save Time

Once you've scratched the surface and learned more about the vocabulary, history, controversy and sources that are important in a discussion of your topic, it's time to:

  • Review your notes - what trends or sub-topics have emerged? Use your notes to:
    • Move from your thesis question(s) to a thesis statement. Now that you know more about the topic, what do YOU think?
    • Review your thesis idea/topic for size - is it the right scope for this assignment? Most students choose a topic that is TOO LARGE for the size of their assignment. You can get a better sense of this if you:
    • Create an outline - organize the information you've found into groups that make sense to you. Rearrange the groups to create an argument with a coherent flow.


Have you tried mind-mapping?

Mind-mapping is a brainstorming technique that can help you pull all your thoughts together and get them down on paper in concrete form. A good mind-map can be the basis for an great outline. It can also tap into sub-conscious areas of your brain and facilitate the synthesis of the information you've absorbed from your initial research.

Examples of mind-maps

Free online mind-mapping tools