Amanda Pappas and Francesca Pimenta
Importance of Organization
- 55% of readers will read something for 15 seconds or less before moving on
- For the reader:
- Avoids confusion
- Helps readers draw connections
- Retains reader’s focus
- For the writer:
- Helps the writer stay focused on addressing main points and not going off topic
- Improves effectiveness of writing
- Ensures writer addresses important details
- Makes writing look professional
- Saves time
- Eliminates repetitiveness
Structure of Honors Thesis
- Abstract- overview of your thesis
- Introduction-overview of thesis main points
- Literature Review- evaluate previous research on your topic
- Methods- outlines how you chose to gather data
- Results- what you found out
- Discussion- includes your own analysis and interpretation of the data
- Conclusion-highlight your research goals
- Traditional outline
- Occurs at prewriting/ drafting stage
- Want to think about all of your concepts, ideas and key topics you want to include in your thesis in order to accomplish the goal of your thesis
- Next, take these concepts, ideas and topics and think about the information readers may need in order for each of these points to make sense
- TIP: try to arrange your ideas in a way that logically makes sense, meaning you build from one key idea to the next
Questions you should ask yourself when writing an outline
- What are the main points I am trying to make in this piece of writing?
- What background information will my readers need to understand each point? What will novice readers vs. experienced readers need to know?
- In what order do I want to present my ideas? Most important to least important, or least important to most important? Chronologically? Most complex to least complex? Another order?
- Comes at the drafting or revision stage of the writing process
- Typically once you have already written your first draft
- You can work by yourself or with a partner to read through your thesis
- Goal- understanding main points you have made and how they relate to one another
- Good way to see how your paper flows and if the order makes sense
Questions you may ask yourself when writing a reverse outline
- What topics are covered in this piece of writing?
- In what order are the ideas presented? Is this order logical for both novice and experienced readers?
- Is adequate background information provided for each point, making it easy to understand how one idea leads to the next?
- What other points might the author include to further develop the writing project?
- Practice of using language designed to help orient readers
- Includes the use of transitional words and phrasing
- Can be explicit or subtle
- “This section will cover Topic A and Topic B” (more obvious)
- “It’s important to consider the impact of Topic A and Topic B” (more subtle)
- Good to include in the beginning and end of each section
- Sometimes helpful to include signposts in the middle of your paper to remind the reader of the argument you are trying to make
Organizing paragraph structure
- Importance: incoherent or weak paragraphs can compromise the entire argument you are trying to make
- Back to the basics– what is a paragraph?
- Single unit of a paper
- Suppose to indicate a new point and offer support
- Purpose of paragraphs:
- Supportive of argument
- Cooperation between paragraphs
- Each paragraphs placement should make sense
- Strengthen argument
- Basic elements of thesis: Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusion
- Where should I start? Start with your literature review!
- What should I write last? Abstract
- Importance of organization: makes writing more readable and comprehensible.
- Outlines and reverse outlines can help the writer organize their thoughts and ensure coherence
- Signposting = Practice of using language designed to help orient readers
- Importance of establishing coherence in your writing
- Consequences of a lack of coherence
- How to establish coherence
- Common mistakes to look out for
Importance of Establishing Coherence
- Make main points clear to…
- Increase the readability of your work
- Make your argument strong
- Allow readers to quickly absorb the content
- Display talents as a writer
Consequences of a Lack of Coherence
- Make it hard for the reader to follow the main ideas
- Negatively impact reader’s experience
- Hinder readability of the material
- Weaken the argument
- Obstruct the rhythm and flow
How to Establish Coherence
- Connect ideas together
- Form a bigger picture. Link ideas to each other to improve flow.
- Use bridging in between sections/points and transitional sentences throughout your writing to improve rhythm
- Bridging is a type of topic sentence that helps transition between paragraphs or ideas. Bridging sentences convey a connection between what the new paragraph will be about about and how the prior paragraph relates/connects.
- Use ‘linking‘ language:
- EX: The boy did not like cats and dogs. On the contrary, he liked animals that could fly, such as sparrows and falcons. Likewise, he liked bats.
- EX: “Mr. Thompson agreed to meet with members of the worker’s union before he signed the contract. He was interested in hearing their concerns about the new insurance plan.”
- As underlined: he refers to Mr. Thompson and their refers to the worker’s union.
- When forming a sentence- Carry over known information from the previous sentence and then add new information as well.
- Populations of co-existing, closely related, but diverging variants of HCV RNA molecules are termed qausispecies (new information). Quasispecies (known information) occur in many RNA viruses (new information).
- EX: If you shorten the United States of America to “US”– make sure you use that exact form throughout your writing. Do not change it to “U.S., U.S.A., or USA.”
- Bibliography and Citations
- EX: Follow APA, MLA, Chicago guidelines
- Keep the capitalization of words the same. If you write Brooklyn Bridge, make sure to capitalize “bridge” every time.
- EX: If you format dates as the following: September 27th, 2019 –> do not change that format such as: 27th of September in 2019, In 2019 on September 27, 10/27/2019, or 10/27/19. One format should be kept when mentioning any dates.
- EX: If you say far-right political groups, do not write this phrase without a hyphen as follows: far right.
- EX: Usually, the children spend the summer weekends playing ball in park, swimming in the neighbor’s pool, eating ice cream under the tree, or camping in the backyard.
- Point of view
- 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person omniscient/limited.
- EX: If you choose to spell the word “hezbollah” like this, stick with it throughout the entire piece. Do not use other spellings like: “hesbollah, hizbullah, hizbollah, hisbollah.”
- Present your ideas in a logical order to paint a bigger picture
- Create structured paragraphs
- Plan and execute an organized layout
Repetition (This is a form of linking)
- Repeat key nouns, phrases, and ideas to emphasize the main points
- EX: Anaphora in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.
- Make sure not to to lose sentence variety
- Do not simply repeat the same information or ideas with different wording
Common Mistakes to Look out For
- Lack of Rhythm or Flow
- Disorganized ideas or an illogical order of sections
- Failure to communicate the main points and the bigger picture
- Lack of Sentence Variety
- Dangling or Misplaced Modifiers
Incorrect: When nine years old, my mother enrolled in medical school.
Incorrect: They saw a fence behind the house made of barbed wire.
Correct: When I was nine years old, my mother enrolled in medical school.
Correct: They saw a fence made of barbed wire behind the house.
Summary of Coherence
- Communicate your main points to the reader
- Assert credibility as a scholar and/or academic
2. What a lack of coherence causes
- Confusion/disinterest for the reader
- Decrease in the readability of your work
- Your ideas, main points, and bigger picture will not be communicated effectively.
3. Ways to Establish Coherence
Main Takeaways: Connect ideas to each other and to the big picture, parallelism(using the same tense), tie sentences together using bridging and transitional phrases and sentences, keep things like hyphens, dates, points of view, and spelling the same throughout your work.
- Connecting ideas
- Create sentences using carried-over information and new information.
- Bibliography and Citations
- Point of view
- Put emphasis on important ideas, concepts, phrases
- Organize paragraphs and sentences
- Present ideas logically
- Connect your points to the big picture
- Mention important ideas and phrases multiple times to put emphasis on them
- Make sure not to repeat the same information with it just phrased in a different way.
4. What to avoid:
- Choppy or non-varied sentences
- Arrhythmic Sentences
- Dangling or misplaced modifiers
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