Citation Outlining

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Oliver Hammond

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Oliver Hammond

Outlines can be a useful tool for physically organizing the research you have already conducted and your own ideas about the topic. There are a number of ways to construct an outline, but for this exercise we are asking you to first write a “scratch outline’ and then turn that into a “citation outline.”

Activity

1. Creating a scratch outline is a very informal construction of your paper’s main topics in a rough order of how you plan to put them in the paper. This helps you visualize how the flow of the paper will go from one topic to the next.

Example: hip hop and technology

  • Early hip hop history
  • Economics of the culture
  • Turntables
  • Synthesizers
  • Sampling
  • Autotune

2. The scratch outline is great for just giving yourself a rough idea of what you plan on talking about in your paper from paragraph to paragraph.

3. Next we will turn this scratch outline into a citation outline using the research that you have done up to this point.

4. The citation outline includes notes about the articles that you found and where they will fit into your paper based on the topics from your scratch outline. It should look something like this:

Example: hip hop and technology

  • Early hip hop history
    • Rose, 1994
    • Gray, 1995
    • Reynolds, 2002
    • Johnson, 1998
    • Dyson, 2004
  • Economics of the culture
    • Rose, 1994
    • Davies, 1995
    • O’Neill, 1997
  • Turntables
    • Miller, 1996
    • Davies, 1995
  • Synthesizers,
    • Miller, 1996
    • Reynolds, 2002
  • Sampling
    • Rose, 1994
    • Miller, 1996
    • Davies, 1995
  • Autotune
    • Smith, 2013

5. As you can see, having overlap among the categories is completely fine. It’s all about considering where the articles you have looked at fit into your outline based on how you have broken down your paper’s topics.

6. Share-out: Post your citation outline in the comments. If you did it on a physical piece of paper, you may take a picture of it and post it below instead.