Define the Scope of Your Paper
No matter how much I write, once I dig into a project, I have a moment of fear: Am I overwhelming my reader? Or worse: am I providing too little relevant information?
It’s easy for me to get so involved with writing that I have a hard time judging how accurately I’m hitting my target. As a result, I’ve discovered some steps that help me stay on task.
I believe researching my topic before writing helps me define the scope of my paper. While I might end up conducting further research in order to develop my argument, by beginning my research before writing, I can establish an initial starting point. In addition, my research provides me some ideas regarding the limitations of my topic.
Define Style and Audience
Determining what type of paper I’m writing, and whom I’m writing for helps to narrow my scope. All readers have expectations, but by establishing who my reader is, I can decide what information I need to include. In addition, different types of writing involve different constraints; so knowing what format I need to write in helps me understand how to develop my ideas.
Regardless of topic, I believe it’s beneficial to obtain feedback from others. Whenever possible, I ask my peers, friends, etc., to read my work. While they may not be my intended audience, they can give insight into how comprehensively I’ve defined and addressed my topic.
Finding the scope for my writing and sticking to it is a constant challenge. Here’s one more resource that discusses strategies for focusing your writing. I find this useful when I’m having trouble getting started. I hope this aids you, too.
Graduate Assistant – Virtual Writing Center