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Research Paper Organizational Patterns  

Last Updated: Sep 6, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Organizational Patterns

Deciding on an Organization Pattern for Your Research Paper
Next you have to decide HOW you want to organize your information.  Your topic and your thesis statement will likely suggest (or dictate) a logical pattern oforganization for you.  These might include:
  • Chronological-  This pattern of organization arranges information based on the sequence in which events occur.  It is often effective for historical events and biographies.


  • List-  This pattern of organization would mirror a list created in a thesis statement. For example, if your thesis statement mentions three major reasons for an event, you would use this method of organization to create and develop paragraphs about each reason. 


  • Topical-  This pattern of organization breaks down information into smaller categories within the larger topic.  It is often effective for highlighting smaller groups within a larger one. For example, a paper about FDR’s New Deal might use this pattern of organization to discuss four major programs that were a part of the larger New Deal. 


  • Cause and Effect-  This pattern of organization illustrates a cause-and-effect relationship between ideas. You might divide the paper into two sections:  causes and effects.  Or you might pair this pattern of organization with another one to list several causes and effects.  It is often effective for persuasive papers or papers in which you want to show HOW something came into being.  For example, a paper about the Stock Market Crash might highlight several events that caused the crash as well as several effects. 

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