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7.9 Managing Information

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how to proceed once you think you are finished taking notes.
  2. Know how to make an outline from your notes.
  3. Recognize the process of evaluating your outline.

Pause for a few moments before beginning to amass your information into a first draft. Return to your statement(s) of purpose. Have any of the elements (voice, audience, message, tone, attitude, reception) changed as a result of your research? If so, write up an intermediate statement of purpose, and use it as a guide as you draft and as the basis for a writer’s memo you may be asked to submit with your draft.

Once you think you have an ample supply of materials, read through your subtopic files and consider the order of the different pieces. Consider the points you want to make in relation to the information you have found and begin typing comments between your notes to assure you have a solid plan in place when you start to make your outline.

Create an outline that begins with your thesis (or message). Include the subtopics as key elements. Under each subtopic, list your supporting points you have researched as well as the ideas you plan to add. When you are finished, evaluate your outline by asking questions such as the following:

  • Do I want to tweak my planned thesis based on the information I have found?
  • Do all of my planned subtopics still seem reasonable?
  • Did I find an unexpected subtopic that I want to add?
  • In what order do I want to present my subtopics?
  • Are my supporting points in the best possible order?
  • Do I have enough support for each of my main subtopics? Will the support I have convince readers of my points?
  • Do I have ample materials for the required length of the paper? If not, what angle do I want to enhance?
  • Have I gathered too much information for a paper of this length? And if so, what should I get rid of?
  • Did I include information in my notes that really doesn’t belong and needs to be eliminated? (If so, cut it out and place it in a discard file rather than deleting it. That way, it is still available if you change your mind once you start drafting.)
  • Are my planned quotations still good choices?

Key Takeaways

  • After you think you are finished taking notes, read through your notes and reorder them as needed.
  • Create an outline using your thesis, subtopics, and supporting details.
  • Evaluate your outline by reflecting on your thesis, adjusting the subtopics, tweaking your supporting points, considering your quantity of information, looking at the relevancy of the different details, and contemplating the effectiveness of your planned quotations.

Exercises

Choose the best choice for each question.

  1. Once you are finished taking notes, you should

    1. start writing immediately.
    2. read through your notes and put them in an order that will work.
    3. make sure, when you write, to use all the information you have found.
  2. Your outline should begin with

    1. your thesis (or message).
    2. your best quotation.
    3. your most interesting subtopic.
  3. If you have notes that are relevant, but do not fit within the planned subtopics

    1. delete those notes.
    2. you know that you did unneeded research.
    3. consider adding a subtopic.
  4. Once you begin to make your outline, you should

    1. tweak your thesis based on information you have learned.
    2. eliminate all information that does not directly support your thesis.
    3. use only your original ideas.