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Basic research skills guide for AAA1009.

How do I start writing a college paper?

How do I start writing a college paper?

Rough Outline

Make a list of all the important categories and subtopics you need to cover. These will become the foundation of your outline. Arrange them in a logical order, but don’t be afraid to rearrange… it’s better to fix structural problems in the outline phase than later after everything has already been written.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement conveys the purpose and topic of your paper and will be written into the introduction and usually restated in the conclusion of your paper. It is basically a summarization of what your paper is about written in a sentence or two. Because you may need to do some preliminary research to figure out what categories and subtopics you'll cover within the topic of your paper, it is best to develop your actual thesis statement after developing an outline. If you are having trouble getting your thesis statement down to one or two sentences, try paraphrasing your topic as a question then answer that question. 

Refined Outline

Organize your resources within the outline for your paper and showing where you plan to incorporate quotes from your sources.  Don't forget about rhetorical devices, or modes of persuasion, that should be included in any argumentative or persuasive paper or speech. These include: 

Ethos, which are appeals to the credibility and trustworthiness of the speaker or writer. 
Pathos, which are appeals to the emotions and feelings of the audience. 
Logos, which are appeals to the logic and reason of the audience. 
and Kairos, which are appeals the timeliness and relevance of the argument. 

Think of transition statements between paragraphs and ideas and rearrange your outline if necessary.

Rough Draft

  • Introduction with Thesis Statement.
  • Body to include all categories and subtopics with quotes with smooth transitions.
  • Conclusion as a restatement of your thesis statement, reiteration of your main evidence, and summarization of your findings.

Draft again until final draft with citations (repeat as needed).

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