Use Your Outline to Organize Your Research Notes

Information Literacy Module VI: Preparing to Use Information Effectively

Now that you’ve collected researched evidence, it’s time to put it to use in your outline or storyboard. To do so, think about sorting laundry. You have a hamper for whites, one for colors, one for delicates, and one for dry-cleaning. As you go through your giant pile, you toss each article of clothing into the correct hamper. Do the same thing with your research. Go back through your notes and decide which quotes, paraphrases, and summaries are good evidence for which supporting points. Once in a while when you’re doing laundry you find a ratty old t-shirt or a lone sock and throw it away. You can do that with your notes, too! You don’t have to use everything; use only the evidence you need to prove your points well, and leave the rest behind.

What does this evidence sorting look like? You have some options. You could write/type one supporting point at the top of each page and copy the researched evidence that supports that point below it. You could create a pile of note-cards containing evidence for each supporting point. Regardless of how you plan to sort, make sure that each summary, quotation, and paraphrase is accompanied by its citation and documentation information.

Guiding Your Research
It’s time to sort your own evidence! Share a copy of your outline/storyboard with your instructor, complete with evidence arranged according to the supporting points it proves.
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