One important part of the I-Search process is that some of the writing takes place as you research, while the information is still hot.
At this point you have actually done quite a bit of preliminary work. You probably have
- chosen a topic
- found some resources
- learned a thing or two by reading (or skimming) information in a variety of formats.
Congratulate yourself on a job well done. There is much work yet to be done, but it is important to take time and recognize accomplishments along the way.
One way of recognizing growth as you go along is to take stock of what you know, or what you think you know. It’s okay to say “I think I know this, but I’m not sure,” because it keeps you looking towards resolving that uncertainty.
You know more than you did when you started. This phase of research will come up repeatedly and helps you to see progress.
What To Write
On a piece of paper, make a list of what you know about your subject.
- Why did you choose this topic? Why are you interested in it?
- How might you break your topic into smaller parts or subcategories?
- What did you find that you already knew?
- What did you find that you didn’t know?
- Have the names of any people surfaced as recognizable or important so far?
- Did anything surprise you, interest you, or strike you as different than you thought?
Having made these notes, write two to three paragraphs entitled “What I Know” that express your knowledge at the starting point of your research, including anything you’ve picked up in the early stages of narrowing your topic.
In a way, this can be compared to Columbus making a map of the world as he knew it before he sailed off with the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria to go discover parts of the world where other people lived.