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PSCI112-Comparative Policy: Create a Plan

The Outline is Your Roadmap

Brainstorm: List all the ideas that you want to include in your paper.
Organize: Group related ideas together.
Order: Arrange the groups in subsections from general to specific or from abstract to concrete.
Note: List resources found for each section of your outline.

A quick review of the outline will help you identify areas that still need research to support the ideas presented, BEFORE you start the process of writing the paper.


See additional helpful outlining tips at the Purdue University Online Writing Lab:

Finding Keywords

Now that you have decided on the states or municipalities you'll be comparing and the policy of your focus, it's time to find keywords to use in your searches for articles and other materials. Here are some tips for finding keywords and brainstorming synonyms.

  • Use the questions to be answered on the Policy Paper assignment sheet to start. For example:
    • What is the issue? Is there more than one way to phrase the issue?
    • Try searching the issue together with BOTH geographic locations (municipality or state) to see if any comparison has already been made.
    • Search the issue and each location's policy separately.  You will find most of your information this way.
    • Jot down any important people or organizations that come up in your research, and search those names with the locations.
    • Research national policy to see how similar it is to the local policies.  Consider why they are similar or different.  
    • While researching national policy, use the .gov website (for example the NEA) to find links to the separate state association websites.
  • Look for unique language or "keywords" in articles you read.
  • Mine keywords from the abstracts of the first articles you find, as well as the subject terms assigned to the articles in EBSCO. Look especially for words that uniquely describe that location.


Brainstorming Synonyms

Use a format like this example to organize your thoughts into concepts and list synonyms for the concepts. While you may not need to form a question or thesis statement for this particular project, using the concept columns to look for synonyms is a good way to organize your searches.  For example, health policy could also be searched as medical policy in EBSCO.

Check terms off your list as you go.  If you find that you are  repeatedly seeing the same search results, you might be inadvertently using the same search terms!

Search Term Worksheet

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