09 March 2012
By Sandrine Berges
Following up on Blanka's very useful post on how we take notes from the stuff we read, I thought I'd ask a few questions about how you plan papers or books.
One of the comments suggested that we use an A1 piece of paper to put down our notes and draw connections between them. I said that I sometimes do that when I plan a paper. In fact, that's as close as brain storming as I normally go. Usually, when I want to write something, the paper is already pretty much formed in my mind so it's not too hard to put down a structure on a word document, which I then fill out as I write my first draft.
That structure usually looks something like that:
Introduction: where I introduce the problem and state my thesis.
First argument, second argument, objection considered, replies to said objection. Conclusion.
Of course there's variations on that depending on what I actually have to say. This way of structuring papers came to me when I was a phd student, having coffee at my neighbours' house, who was a young lecturer in the same department as me. I saw a piece of paper on his coffee table where he'd jotted down that structure. I instantly memorised it and wondered how come I hadn't used it before. Of course, I'd used something like that, in that my papers did tend to state a thesis, develop some arguments, consider some objections and reply to them. But how much easier was it to know before hand that that's what I was going to do!
Do you have any little tricks like this that you use when you're planning a paper? If so, please share.
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