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Ezra's Research Diary: Tried and True Strategies for Effective Undergraduate Research: Get Organized

This library guide is designed to help students understand the overall process of undergraduate research at Cornell.

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The Formal Outline

If you have a clear understanding of your topic, your research question, and your main ideas, you might use the formal outline as a way to start organizing your thoughts. Here's an example, which you could adapt to your own purposes:

Thesis Statement

I. Introduction

II. First Main Idea

   A. first subordinate idea

      1. supporting detail

      2. suppointing detail

   B second subordinate idea

      1. supporting detail

      2. supporting detail

III. Second Main Idea

   A. first subordinate idea

      1. supporting detail

      2. supporting detail

   B. second subordinate idea

      1. supporting detail

      2. supporting idea

IV. Conclusion

Get Organized!

When it's time to begin your first draft, sometime the biggest challenge is knowing where to start! If you begin  by organizing your ideas, you will have a better idea of the direction your writing will take. 

You might begin by creating an outline or a concept map to help you see patterns and relationships between your own ideas and the content you have extracted from your research.

Concept Mapping made fun!

Concept Mapping

Concept maps are graphic tools used to organize and visualize knowledge, showing relationships between different topics and ideas. Typically the nodes represent general ideas or concepts, while the lines and arrows represent relationships between concepts. 

Concept maps can be arranged in a variety of ways. For example, they might be hierarchical hierarchical in fashion, with general concepts at the top and more specific concepts below, or they might have general concepts radiating out from the central node, as in the spider map.


Tips for getting started

  • First, start with a main idea or topic to focus on.
  • Then, determine key concepts that connect and relate to your idea.
  • Finish by connecting the main idea and the key concepts, using line segments accompanied by words or phrases.

Spoke and Hub Model


Hierarchical Model

Linear Model

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