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It wasn’t how I had organized the sources in the source narration document, after all: it was a better structure that fit the argument I was honing in on.Then, I made an outline for the chapter that I actually followed.2 By the time I was ready to start the second chapter, I decided that I wanted to have an argument before, not after, diving into close analysis of my primary sources.
Once I had written all the sections–first the body sections, then the chapter introduction and conclusion–I finally put them all together.
I removed some redundancies, and added a few things that seemed to be missing as the whole coalesced from the parts.
I ended up rewriting the introduction many times as the chapter grew longer.
This was helpful to keep the balance between a) having a direction and a point and b) actually having evidence to make that point.
Then, I wrote a version of the chapter introduction, laying out for myself the chapter’s argument and structure.
Only then did I start to work with my sources and add them in to the text.She suggested that I think of an anecdote, moment, or event that was a window onto what I wanted the chapter as a whole to say.I could start writing by narrating that moment and then let the chapter develop from there.I now had to figure out what the analytic through-line could be and weave that into the text.This meant lots of reorganizing and rewriting the introduction and conclusion.As I read sources carefully, I realized that the argument wasn’t quite working.I changed the introduction and then went back to analyzing more sources.1 I wrote my first chapter last year while I was still doing research.I had my dissertation map all filled out, but it was a less-structured tip from a friend that helped me actually begin.The final revisions to the chapter involved adding in some more evidence and context, sharpening and modifying some arguments, and revising some of the analytic language.The revisions felt easier than what I’d done for chapters 1 and 2.