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Online Guide to Writing and Research

The Writing Process


Techniques to Get Started


Unless you have a photographic memory, and most of us do not, an entire paper is a lot to hold inside your head. By creating an outline, you can set down reminders about the structure of the paper in short form. You can also ensure that your paper meets assignment requirements and supports your argument. 

Planning this out before you write can help guide you on each part, as well as ease any uncertainty about what to write about in certain parts of your paper. The sample assignment instructions and outline below depict one way of organizing information in preparation for structuring a written assignment. 

Sample Informal Outline

Let's pretend for a moment that this is your assignment prompt. 

Write a research paper using evidence to support a thesis that addresses your research question by examining a current issue or event in the news from the perspective of your field of study. The audience is people who are generally educated but do not have extensive knowledge of your field or topic. 2000-word count (approx. 8 pages double-spaced)


Internet addiction (from the perspective of the field of psychology)


How has daily use of technology altered the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of young adults and what are some solutions for this issue?


Start with an ATTENTION GRABBER: “An estimated 400 million people will potentially suffer from internet addiction in 2022” (Bowman, 2022, para. 6). 

Background Info: Because technology is needed for almost every aspect of a young person’s life, it becomes difficult to determine when to walk away from it for the day. 

End with Thesis (usually located at the end of your introduction): While some may argue that daily technology use has little effect on wellbeing, research shows that physical, mental, and social repercussions are undeniable and drastic actions need to be taken to help young people find balance.


*Each section of your paper is going to support a part of your thesis statement. 

*Each Paragraph = Your position + Expert opinions + Yours and Theirs Supporting Thesis


Paragraph One and Two: Focus on problem number #1 in thesis: physical effects of too much technology

Paragraph Three: Provides some solutions to improve physical effects


Paragraph One and Two: Focus on problem #2 in thesis: mental effects of too much technology

Paragraph Three: Provides solutions to improve mental health


Paragraph One and Two: Focus on problem #3 in thesis: social effects of too much technology

Paragraph Three: Provides solutions to improve social health


Paragraph One and Two: Focus on how all three effects have affected society as a whole 

Paragraph Three: Looks forward: What will the world look like if this issue isn’t addressed? What will the world look like if improvements are implemented?


Paragraph One: Revisits thesis in different words. Ties together all effects and impacts. 

Paragraph Two: Ends with powerful words to sway the audience to support the argument and looks to future research and recommendations


Key Takeaways

  • The more you plan the structure and argument, the easier your writing and researching will be. You will know what evidence you need for each paragraph to support your argument.

  • Your outline does not need to be perfect but does need to break down the requirements of the assignment and the facets of your argument/thesis. 

  • Always count one double-spaced paragraph as half a page. You should try not to go beyond half a page. 2000 words is approximately 8 double-spaced pages. This helps you plan the number of paragraphs in your outline.

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Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing