Mark Your Territory with an Outline/Storyboard

Information Literacy Module VI: Preparing to Use Information Effectively

Now is the time for a plan: an outline if you’re writing a paper or a storyboard if you’re preparing a speech. Why? There are two ideas at work here. First of all, you want to plan a solid structure for your research project so that it’s unified and makes sense. Second, you want to “own” your project from the start.

Think about it this way: Have you ever seen an organized fight? Whether it was a mixed martial arts fight or a couple of yellow-tailed floopies fighting over territory or a mate, the intro is always the same. The two fighters strut around, grimace, puff up their chests, and basically assert their toughness before the fight even begins, right? Well, you’ll be doing the same thing here. You and your researched evidence will be fighting for territory in your final product (paper or speech). An outline or a storyboard can help you control that fight.
Students often make the mistake of gathering way too many notes, grouping them into piles of information about related sub-topic, and stringing them all together into a paper or a speech without a clear sense of purpose and without playing an active roll in the project. Your researched evidence is important, but its purpose is to back you up, not to drown you out. By preparing an outline/storyboard that contains your main idea and your supporting points, you’ll claim your research project as your own before you even begin to gather research notes.



Guiding Your Research

How has organization helped (or the lack of organization hurt) you in previous research experiences? How do you think creating an outline/storyboard at this stage will be useful to you?

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