Organizing the Sequence of Your Ideas

The sequence in which you present your ideas is basic to the success of your paper. Attempt to get the sequence established before you begin the actual writing of the paper. This sounds easier than it is. Organizing a clear, lucid sequence can be difficult because in scientific research a number of things appear to need to be told simultaneously. Since they cannot be told simultaneously, this is beyond doubt the most difficult part of writing a first draft and one that needs to be solved before you start to write. If you do not get it solved, you may commit the worst possible crime in writing a research report which you hope to get published, namely your paper may contain repetition.

In order to accomplish a sequence which is clean, precise, and without repetition, you might consider using a pre-writing technique called 'story board' often used by newspaper reporters and detectives. In this technique, each idea is written separately on an index card, a piece of paper, or a post-it. Index cards are the most versatile: They can be arranged and rearranged in sequences as you search for the most logical order. They can be carried in a pocket and the logic be reeval-uated until you can commit to a solid enough sequence to begin a first draft. When pieces of paper or post-its are used, they can be posted on a wall where you or you and a colleague or two can agree on a good sequence. At that point the cards or paper are numbered, and keywords can be written on them to help with the writing. You might even put each idea into a rudimentary sentence, but getting the sequence into sentences is not important yet. What is important is to organize a sound sequence in which ideas do not repeat and each event is in a logical order.

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