Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beginning with the end in Mind

Sorry for the Coveyism, but I think that this habit can in fact be highly effective when it comes to writing a research paper. 

We are at the stage where a big concern is the scope of your project. Questions arise such as: What are the things that you are going to include? What things are you going to focus on? What parts might turn out to be controversial? What parts are you most worried about? What tasks will take the most time? What things require the most prior preparation (e.g. IRB approval)?

My challenge to you for this week (if you haven’t already done so) is to come up with an outline of what topics you expect your paper to cover and in what level of detail. I would expect these outlines to be about a typewritten page long and show what sections we can look forward to seeing.

Accomplishing this at this stage should give a combined source of comfort and challenge. Comfort because it will give you a sense of structure and put limits on what you have left to do. Challenge because parts of your project may have barely begun or may seem daunting.  A correct balance of those two emotions may help propel you forward in a structured way.

General Sun-Tzu, author of The Art of War, which argues that battles are won ahead of time with correct planning.

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