Using Outlines to Establishing Supporting Details

            The basis of any written work is only as strong as the evidence being used to support it.  Scientific research usually requires data to support the theories or hypotheses predicating their bases.  This is done by using supporting details which is data being used to reinforce and prove the validity of the thesis, thesis statement, or assertion.  This is usually done by gathering factual and verifiable information.  The process of accumulating supporting details is group into three separate categories: primary research, secondary research, and avoiding plagiarism.


            Primary research is the direct acquirement of data from its source.  This means the source of the information is usually observed directly by the researcher or the writer.  For instance, a reporter might interview several employees who were involved in an investigation of companies having reputations for mistreating employees.  Sometimes, statistical data and other forms of statistical information such as surveys are directly obtained from gathering knowledge from people involved in a certain matter.  Ultimately, information for supporting data is obtained directly from the source.


            Secondary resources are forms of information involving using previously collected data collected by another person.  This involves using resources such as encyclopedias and academic volumes to acquire information in a written work that has already been gathered by prior research.  APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association) has styles of organizing and referencing data for academic purposes.  Each one is specified for different collegiate courses and classes.  Any information that is obtained indirectly is a secondary source.


            One of the most important aspects of creating supporting details is ensuring plagiarism is not being used.  Plagiarism is “the act of taking one’s work from another and presenting it as one’s own, especially without permission.”  Plagiarism has very serious consequences: (1) it is legal and can draw unwanted lawsuits, and (2) it can severely undermine one’s credibility as a writer.  One of the ways to avoid this is to use direct quotes and acknowledge the source of the information.  One can always use parenthetical references containing the name and page numbers of the source to credit the source of the information.  Paraphrasing is done in a similar manner with the exception of changing the syntax of the information and still referring to the source.


            Knowing how to utilize supporting details in an outline will reinforce the main idea of the written work.  Using primary sources will allow direct examination of a matter or issue to receive the answers needed to yield substantial supporting details.  Secondary sources also create fundamental reinforcement for supporting details.  Knowing how to properly acknowledge sources of information will prevent plagiarism from appearing in one’s work.  Following these steps will simplify the process of writing for research and prevent consequences for plagiarism.

Courtney Smith