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TROT! Your Enriched Outline

Art once on display @commonroots
Art once on display @commonroots

To jumpstart any writing project, I can find no better prompt than the Teaching TSP exercise posted by Evan Stewart on TheSocietyPages.org today. In it, Stewart, the co-graduate-editor of TSP, explains the process behind writing a “There’s Research on That!” post for the site, framing it as a classroom exercise.

I wish all my academic clients would approach writing their journal articles this way.

As a sort of “enriched outline,” writing a TROT! post for TSP means:

  1. Identifying your main point or angle on a topic and capturing it succinctly
  2. Writing down the main arguments you need to make to establish that point
  3. Gathering the key sources that will back up those individual arguments
  4. Summing it all up

This is to say, writing a TROT! post gets you about 50% of the way toward a solid paper, forcing you to briefly and intriguingly state your case, support it with the best possible research, and sum up, all in a page or less. Build on that scaffolding, and you’re nearly assured success. Just don’t forget to clean up that bibliography!

Reverse Outlining

Photo by Wes Peck via Flickr CCA friend reached out this weekend because she was absolutely mired in a bear of a final paper. She didn’t want me to edit it (and I definitely don’t edit exams or papers earlier than the dissertation and/or journal submissions), but to give some advice on how to handle what had become unwieldy. My suggestion? The reverse outline. Here’s what I wrote:

To reorient yourself to the question, I suggest grabbing a notebook and your paper, and making an outline of what’s actually in the paper. Continue reading Reverse Outlining

Jeri Christianson: A Eulogy

Geraldine Mary ChristiansonáÂ0;Recently, I was honored to spend time with my paternal grandmother as she died and with my father’s sister and brother as they provided care. Relatively speaking, she passed away quickly, after a short kidney illness, and peacefully, having had an incredibly sound health care directive in place. I was surprised to be tasked with giving Jeri Christianson’s eulogy: it was overwhelming to absorb the enormity of standing in for my father, of crystallizing a life, of leading my family through a life course transition in a way that would recognize the process of grief and change is both individual and social. Here’s what I wrote: Continue reading Jeri Christianson: A Eulogy