5.1.1 Sort your information
Start by grouping similar pieces of information together.
Return to your assignment question. What are you being asked to do?
Describe? Compare? Explain? Solve?
Some patterns of organisation will be more appropriate than others.
Descriptive and persuasive essays
Descriptive and persuasive essays usually require you to convey a single idea or purpose. You need to consider how to best arrange the major themes so that each detail supports one main purpose. Each topic will be different.
Look at the major topic and themes. What are the logical and critical points?
For example: Describe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This task lends itself to following the organisation of the actual document. Closely following the organisation of the actual document will make your information product easier to follow.
For example: Describe the role of religion in The Merchant of Venice.
This task might suit progression from examination of the characters, to the settings, to the form of writing used (soliloquies, songs, prose). Following the chronology of the play might also be appropriate.
Chronology arranges events of information in order of time.
This pattern of organisation is useful for describing series of historical, political, or sociological events.
For example: Describe the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
You might choose to sort your information by point of view.
This pattern of organisation is useful for persuading. Start with the most conventional view, to get your readers on side, and then present the less conventional view points.
Comparing and contrasting tasks
Comparison and contrast presents similarities and/or differences between two or more subjects.
Consider what factors will allow you to easily compare the information.
For example: Compare and contrast the management practices of Mitsubishi and Microsoft Corporation.
In this instance, it is logical to compare specific aspects of management practice such as organisational structure and leadership style.
Cause and effect
Cause and effect shows the relationship between a condition and the events or forces that produced that condition.
For example: Explain the extinction of dinosaurs.
With this example it is easiest to sort information into possible causes and their effects. So you first discuss one cause and its effect, then another cause and its effect, and so on.
Problem based tasks
Problem based tasks require you to make a decision or judgment based on facts, information, logic and/or rationalisation.
For example: Why did the Titanic sink?
For this topic, it might help to organise information by human factors, design flaws, materials failures and effects of extreme environments.