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Checklist: Steps of the Writing Process

Have I completed all these steps for my assignment? X. means a step is part of the iterative process of researching, reading, and refining your topic; you will likely cycle through these (x) steps several times.

___ 1. Read and understood the assignment instructions

___ x. Conducted any necessary research

___ x. Read my source texts and took notes (see template below)

___ x. Narrowed my topic

___ 5. Reorganized my research notes around ideas

___ 6. Brainstormed my tentative thesis and tentative organization plan

___ 7. Created an outline that organizes my original ideas + my supporting evidence

___ 8. Wrote a draft

___ 9. Revised my draft by improving my thesis, organization, main ideas, evidence, etc.

___ 10. Proofread my draft to fix typos, spelling errors, etc. and to ensure all formatting is correct

Template: CRAAP Tool for Evaluating Sources

Use this template to help you select appropriate sources.

What’s the source?


How new is the source?


Is this type of source appropriate for my assignment?

Is this source on topic for my research?


Who or what created this source?

Are they trustworthy?

How do I know?


Is this source reliable, truthful, and correct?

How do I know?


Why was this source created?

(To inform, to teach, to sell, to entertain, etc.)


Template: Taking Research Notes

Fill in this template for each source text you read.

Research Notes

Bibliographic entry

Author or authors’ purpose or argument

Type of study or theoretical framework


Key terms


My own response to and thoughts on the text

The “Re-s” of Notetaking

Remember the “re-s” as you use your research notes to help you begin writing.

The “Re-s” of Notetaking


Reread your notes. Remember that good notes eliminate the need to memorize or reread your source texts.




  • Put similar information together
  • Group notes by idea instead of by source
  • Shuffle your notes with purpose to make connections across texts
  • Start to build your own ideas




  • Have you answered your research question? Do you have enough evidence to defend your thesis?
  • If not, do more research
  • Don’t be afraid to recycle notes from sources that don’t help you answer your research question


Elements of an Effective Thesis Statement

Thesis Statements Are…


  • Short
  • Usually 1-2 sentences


  • Make your point directly so your reader understands what you mean
  • Avoid wordy, overly complex language
  • Not vague or abstract


  • Narrow and focused
  • Concrete ideas


  • Another scholar could reasonably disagree
  • Debatable; there are opposing positions, differing opinions, or different approaches

Checklist: Thesis Statements

Is my thesis statement…

___ Concise?

___ Clear?

___ Specific?

___ Arguable?

Checklist: Body Paragraphs

Does each of my body paragraphs have…

___ A single main idea that helps support my thesis?

___ A topic sentence in my own words?

___ Evidence from my sources that supports the main idea of my paragraph?

___ Proper citations for all quotations, paraphrases, and summaries?

___ Analysis of the evidence and discussion of how it relates to my main points, all in my own words?

___ A concluding sentence in my own words?

___ A transition to the next paragraph?

Helpful Resources

SSC Academic Skills Website:

SSC Online Learning:

McMaster Library:

McMaster Library Research Consultations:

SSC Academic Skills LibGuides (writing and skills tip sheets):

Purdue OWL (citation):


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