Develop a problem and select primary sources in consultation with me.
Find primary sources:
We locate the primary sources that we will use. Check them out, if possible. If not, determine how and when you will use them.
We will take notes from our primary sources. It is best to do this on note cards, so that we can arrange notes by topic when we prepare to write. Make sure to note on each card the source for the note, so we can footnote it later.
Every night after we have taken notes, look over all the note cards we have compiled so far. Do this even if we have just started taking notes. Look over our notes, noting interesting recurring patterns in our data, or interesting questions that pop up. The point is that you must analyze our notes as we do our research. Constant analysis will suggest themes to look for when researching, and will help us develop your argument. Do not wait to analyze our notes until we have finished taking them; it doesn’t work like that.
Prepare outline and develop hypothesis:
After analyzing our notes, prepare an outline of your paper. An outline is our tentative scheme for organizing and writing the paper. The main purpose of the outline is to determine the structure of your paper. Without an overall sense of how the component parts of your research will address your topic we will have a very difficult time writing your paper. Through preparation of an outline, we should begin to get a sense of the argument you want to make. This argument is your tentative thesis, or hypothesis.
Write first draft:
Once we have a good collection of notes and an outline, we should write a first draft of your final paper. We arrange our notes according to your outline. Our paragraphs should correspond to your outline, and each should advance your goal of supporting our hypothesis. A first draft will challenge you to articulate ideas that have been floating around in your head. You will probably realize that what you thought were simple ideas are actually complex, and are more difficult to express than you expected.
Write final draft:
Evaluate and edit your first draft. This is a crucial step! After reconsidering your paper, we write your final draft, revising your first draft and incorporating the extra research we have completed. Throughout the paper writing process, the most important (and challenging) task will be to constantly edit and revise your work.