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Durham University

Department of Anthropology: Writing Across Boundaries

Drafting and Plotting


How you use your time is as important in producing a good thesis as the quality of your data. It is one thing to suggest to students that they plan their time, but many will have little to base their estimates on.

 The UK GRAD program offers useful general tips on planning time, targets, keeping on track and submission. Links on the right take you to pages more specifically linked to planning time and planning writing.

Mind Mapping

If you've never come across Mind Mapping, the links on the right are a good place to start. Mind mapping is an image based technique of putting ideas on paper, usually linked radially around a central idea. Mind maps are used to visualise, structure, classify, 'map' and even generate connections between words, thoughts, or tasks. Wikipedia has a good definition, and some colourful images.

 A more recent development in visual aid to thought is the Rico Cluster, which is intended as a writing tool. It works less off a central idea with radiating connected words, and more on a web structure, with no centre. See the Rico Cluster link on the right.


Developing an outline can give you a sense of purpose, direction and structure to your content. It can act as a framework upon which to hang your ideas, but a flexible one which can bend as you want and need. The OWL at Purdue have collected thoughts on how outlines can be an invention strategy for writing and suggest different forms of outline.

Revising and Editing

Writing is a process of revision and change, and it is very rare for the first effort to be what is kept. This should not discourage you, rather help you realise that most of your work will go through several incarnations before you are satisfied that it says what you want it to. The University of Queensland offers some useful comments on the parallel processes of revision and editing, along with practical suggestions for getting more out of your work.


 Proofreading your work is an important part of the writing process. It is less about the content of your work, and more about its presentability, any grammatical errors you may have made, flow, and structure of your piece. The OWL at Purdue again has some useful comments on general tactics for proofing your work.