Now that you understand what you’ve been asked to do, have chosen a topic that fits the assignment, and have researched and organized that research, you’re ready to articulate your own opinion, argument, or assertion.
But, what is important to remember, is that this is just a starting point. Many students stop right there, and then don’t understand why their instructor graded them poorly on their thesis statement. A thesis needs to be definitive, and should not be about you.
So you have all of this information, now what to do with it? Step four is all about getting organized. Like research, different people have different preferences here. It can also depend on your assignment. Some sort of bibliography (literally “book writing,” this is a list of the books, articles, and other sources you have used in your research) is helpful when it comes to organizing your research.
Any information that doesn’t fit within the framework of your outline, and doesn’t directly support your thesis statement, no matter how interesting, doesn’t belong in your research paper. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach.
Your research spawned tons of ideas. Great! Now you’re ready to begin the process of organizing your presentation . . . before you begin writing. Don’t skip the organization step—it’s critical to your paper’s success. Without it, your paper will lack focus and you’ll spend much more time in the revision process trying to make sense of your jumbled thoughts.