Assignment #4: Rough Draft

In a strange way, by now, the actual process of writing the paper may seem fairly uncomplicated. By now, you have a thesis, you have sources, and you have notes. There are two important steps for this assignment.

Step 1: Writing an Outline

Your instructor may ask for you to prepare an outline before you begin writing. An outline is like a list of your main points, designated for importance with different numbering: I, II, III, IV, V, etc. for main points; A, B, C, etc., for subpoints; 1, 2, 3, etc. for sub-subpoints; and so on. This document is like a list–do not write out your whole paper as an outline. Each point in an outline has little more than a sentence of explanation; perhaps only a few words. Consider the following example, an outline for a short essay designed to persuade U.S. employers to offer paid maternity leave for both parents:

I. Introduction

A. Thesis: The U.S. should offer paid maternity leave for both parents of a child.

B. Foreshadow points; see below

II. Demographic Need for Children

A. The U.S. population growth is sustained largely by immigration

    1. Large-scale immigration is not as reliable as domestic birth rate

B. Even if a population is allowed to decline, the decline must be gradual to prevent economic collapse

C. Paid leave helps to incentivize potential new parents.

III. The Importance of Parents

A. Children form intense bonds early in life

    1. Both parents should be involved in this
    2. These bonds take time to develop

B. Healthier families contribute to a more productive workplace

    1. A family in which both parents are more able to fulfill the needs of child care is more flexible and in turn healthier and more able.
    2. A family in poverty will reduce work efficiency

IV. Conclusion

A. Review points and restate thesis; see above

Whether or not your instructor wants to collect your outline, it is good to have a general plan for your paper written out going into it, so that there are not redundant sections and so that each part has clear evidence and clear transitions.

Step 2: Composing a Rough Draft

After outlining, it may even seem simple to just explain each point more until it becomes a paragraph, adding sources, etc. This is the part where your paper finally looks like a paper. Make your main points into separate sections, and remove the numbering. Add an introduction which presents your thesis and summarizes your points with a hook, and add a conclusion which presents your thesis again with your argument summarized in full in a way that reconnects to the immediate concerns of your readers. (The difference between the summary of the points and the thesis in the conclusion versus the summary of the points and the thesis that was in the introduction is that by the time your readers get to the conclusion, they should have seen your evidence and accepted each of your points–in your conclusion you can bring those together so that they accept your thesis.) In your field, you may need other sections, such as a Discussion section, etc. Add those. The rough draft does not need to be correctly formatted or perfect, but know that in the next phase, when people are reviewing your work to make suggestions, attempting to have correct formatting will allow them to point out possible formatting errors as well. Even expert writers can make formatting errors, so do not underestimate how common they can be.

No example of a rough draft is provided here because the rough draft will vary depending on the nature of the intended finished project. Your instructor may have more specific and appropriate examples for what you are doing. Consult your instructor about whether or not they would like you to submit your rough draft and how.


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