Planning Your Paper

Last session, you developed a thesis statement. This session, you need to develop a concept map (also known as a Mind Map)  and formal outline which captures and outlines the points and support for your paper. The purpose behind doing both is that it allows you to see the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as which format will be most beneficial to you as you plan your papers. 

Mind Map:

A mind map, or concept map, functions similarly to an informal outline. It gives you the opportunity to plot and plan the support that you use for your paper, and to see what points have the strongest support.  Create a mind map using free software or even drawing it if you would like and are able to scan it and share it as an image.

Here is an example of a concept map created using bubbl.us. As you can see, the different colors indicate the different levels of the paper. The supporting points are organized around the main idea for the paper, and additional support is organized around each of the supporting points.  You may use images if that is helpful for you, though the example below did not utilize them.

Concept Map Example


The purpose of an outline is to help you organize your thoughts and your research and the overall structure of your paper.  You can use complete sentences or short phrases and words.  Do not use long phrases or paragraphs, however.  An outline provides an overview of what you will write about.

An outline also helps you see where you need additional support in the form of personal examples, course content, outside academic research, and biblical principles.

Refer to pages 26-29 of The Bedford Handbook (10th ed.) for a specific example and directions on creating an outline. 

If you have an outline beforehand, you will find writing a paper a more efficient process.

Below is an example of a formal outline.

Thesis Statement: In order to create a successful team, one must pay attention to seven important characteristics.

I. Trust among the team members is a key component

A. Low levels of trust are correlated with poor performing teams

B. Trust, once lost, is hard to repair

C. Rebuilding trust takes team away from main purpose or objective

II. Everyone must believe in the purpose of the team

A. Buy-in is increased when everyone knows the purpose of the team

B. Helps to focus team activities

III. Leaders must be identified and recognized by all members of the team

A. Without a designated leader, the group activities may become disorganized

B. The difference between a designated and emergent leader is important to consider

IV. Conclusion

A. Teams are not built for the purpose of failure

1. They are built to succeed at the task or objective at hand

2. Success in team builds morale

B. Review characteristics

C. Time, money, personal and professional sacrifice are required of any team

1. Positive return on these investments means attention should be paid to the key components of a team

2. Each teammate should see the value of their sacrifice

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