Now that you have read and taken notes on the resources you've collected, it's time to go back and re-visit your original research question and outline. Ask yourself:
- Research question/thesis statement:
- Is my research question/thesis statement valid in light of everything I've read?
- Is it too broad or too narrow?
- Do I have the information I need to answer the question adequately and convincingly?
- Re-write or re-configure your research question or thesis statement if you need to. Do so NOW, before your start writing, so that your writing will support your thesis.
- Does my outline still hold up?
- Is the progression of ideas logical?
- Do I need to flesh out any of the main points?
- Do I need to add additional main points?
- Do I have enough information to support or explain each point in the outline?
- If needed, take the time to re-work your outline to achieve the best flow of information (see below). This is critical, and should be done before you start writing.
Next, organize your notes. Give each portion of your outline a code, symbol, or color, and then read through your notes and assign corresponding symbols or colors to the notes that support or explain the points of your outline. Getting your notes organized will help you when you start to write. You'll be able to refer back to your notes and find the quotes or information you need, without having to read through everything over and over again.
As you read through your notes, evaluate the information you've collected. See "Evaluating Information," below, for suggested questions to ask yourself as you read.