Documents A-G

Selecting a Topic Document A Selecting a topic is as important as any other step when writing a research paper.
There are several things to keep in mind when you write a topic:
1. The more you know about a topic, the easier it will be to write about.
2. The more interested you are in a topic, the easier it will be to write about.
3. Make sure your topic is ​broad​ enough to fulfill your paper requirements.
4. Make sure your topic is ​narrow​ enough to be fully explained in the length of
your paper.
5. Make sure that you have an opinion or ​perspective​ on the topic. It isn’t
enough to write about something- you need to present a compelling
perspective on the topic.
It is generally better to select a broad topic, then work your way into something
more specific. See the sample for a five paragraph paper below:
Using phones while driving
The dangers of using phones while
The dangers of texting while driving
The first topic is too ​broad​ to cover in five paragraphs- there are many interesting
things about phones; you can’t cover all of them in five paragraphs. The second
topic is better, but it presents no ​perspective​ on the topic. In the third topic, I am
asserting that using phones while driving are dangerous. My topic, however, is still
too broad- I have​ narrowed​ it to texting, which I should be able to cover easily in five
paragraphs. I now have a topic that will work for a paper.
Six Sided Brainstorm Document B
Topic Idea
Who is
What is the
Where is the
When did it
How will you
present it?
Why should
we care?
Brainstorming and Mind Maps Document C
Once you have a topic that is narrow enough to write about, it is important to decide
how you will present your ideas. Sometimes students just begin writing their paper
after they have a topic- this is a_______________! It can be helpful to free-write,
especially if you get writer’s block, but most people cannot simply sit down and write
an essay without careful _____________ and _________________. Students
who do this typically produce sub-par work or, at the very least, work that is below
what they are capable of.
Brainstorming is an excellent way to begin to put ideas on paper and start to
organize your thoughts. A _______________ is perhaps the most useful of
brainstorms when writing a paper. It allows a person to generate ideas and
categorize them immediately. If done carefully, a concept map can make writing a
paper very simple- you just have to be sure you are using it correctly.
As you can see, mind
maps occur in three
different levels, in
A- _____________
B- _____________
(who, what, where,
when, why)
C- _____________
or _____________
to support concept
If you complete a
concept map, you
very well may end up
with more ideas than
you need to
complete your
paper. That is OK!
You can then select
the best ideas to
write about and you
will have extras
ready to go. This is really helpful if you find that one of your concepts isn’t easy to
write about or doesn’t have enough evidence to support it. Just think- with a mind
map you will have all of the basic elements of your essay ready to go!
Document C Key
Concept Map
Main Topic
Sub Topic
Brainstorming and Concept Maps Document D Thesis Statements Document E A ​thesis​ is the most important part of your paper. It is the heart of a paper. A thesis
is the main idea of any paper. A thesis must make a statement that you can defend
to your reader. It should also be direct. Remember, in any paper, you are going to:
1. Tell the reader what you are going to tell them (Thesis)
2. Tell them (Body)
3. Tell the reader what you told them (Conclusion)
It also lists the main arguments you will make to prove your point. A thesis always
come at the end of the introduction of a paper. Let’s look at some thesis statements
below. On your paper, please indicate whether you think the statement is a strong
thesis OR, if you think it is weak, improve it :
1. Poisonous snakes are not good pets because they are dangerous.
Weak ​ ​Poisonous snakes are not good pets because they are deadly, they belong in
the wild, and they can be difficult to control.
1. Living in dorms can be a positive experience for students because they allow
for strong relationships to form, they keep students close to classes, and
they make sure students have access to important resources.
_______ ____________________________________________________
2. Students should have open campus lunch.
_______ ____________________________________________________
3. Cancer is bad.
_______ ____________________________________________________
My Thesis Statements Document F ________________________________________________
___________________________________________. My topic is:
The opinion I am making in my thesis is:
Since my paper will be five paragraphs, I need to have three points to support my
thesis. They are:
Outlines Document G An outline is the best way to improve the organization of your paper. It is also an
easy way to map out your paper so that you can easily and quickly write it. Think of
your outline as a map: without it, you won’t know where to go when you are writing.
Outlines come in many different forms and, as you become a more experienced
writer, you will find a method you prefer. The most common method for outlining a
five paragraph paper is below:
1. Introduction
a. Attention grabber
b. Thesis statement
2. Body I Main Point
a. Evidence to support
3. Body 2 Main Point
a. Evidence to support
4. Body 3 Main Point
a. Evidence to support
5. Conclusion
Notice that you will fill in information in the bolded parts of the outline. These are the
portions that you need to fill in to complete your outline.
My Outline Document H 1. Introduction a. Attention Grabber: ____________________________ ________________________________________ b. Thesis Statement: ____________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ 2. ___________________________________________ a. Evidence: __________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ 3. ___________________________________________ a. Evidence: __________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ 4. ___________________________________________ a. Evidence: __________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ 5. Conclusion 
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