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Anthropology: Student's Practical Guide to Writing Papers: Magical Rule #2

Magical and Logical Rule Number 2

After you have selected a problem and become acquainted with some of the literature on it, make a well thought out and fairly detailed outline.

As your reading progresses, ask yourself what ideas and information are necessary for understanding your problem, and in what order they have to be presented, in order to have a logical and coherent presentation. Start out with a crude outline. Then revise and elaborate it as needed.

A good outline is indispensable; it helps you figure out what information you need as you carry out your research and in what order that information should be presented. A few superstars can juggle complex ideas and quantities of data in their heads, but for ordinary mortals the use of an outline makes sense. (It is wise to figure that you, like Socrates, are an ordinary mortal.)