Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
What is a Three-Stage Outline?
A Three Stage Outline is one way to organize your research as you prepare your literature review.
Creating a Three Stage Outline
First Stage Outline
- Develop the main concepts or themes of your literature review/term paper
- Determine a logical sequence of topics
- Tips: Consider the following questions
o What am I trying to say?
o What was the original question?
o What is the “so what” factor? Why does your reader care?
Second Stage Outline
- Develop subheadings for each major concept
- Revise your outline – add concepts or change the order – as you learn more about your topic
Third Stage Outline
- Add the references that support each topic
- Use this as the framework for your paper
- Organize your notes in the order of your outline, or in an order that makes it easy for you to find the appropriate reference quickly and easily
Adapted from Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (2000). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.