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APUS Legal Studies Program Writing Guide

Detailed Outlines

The outline is important for two reasons. First, it will help you to organize your thoughts and the information you have gathered from your sources. An effective detailed outline gives you the framework of your project, and also helps you figure out where and how you will cite various sources. The process of drafting an outline also enables you to identify and correct gaps in the logical flow of your creative research project.

As you know, in legal writing you must ensure that every assertion you make is supported by authority. In your research project, everything you write that is not your own original idea or conclusion or a universally known fact must be supported by reference to either primary or secondary authority. An outline gives you a general picture of how each section of your paper will be structured, and of the authority you will cite in support of that structure. If you write a thorough outline, you will, in effect, be filling in the gaps when you start writing your first draft. As you do additional research and expand your ideas, you should likewise expand the outline. Again, this will make writing your first draft much easier.

An outline is a working document, meaning that you make changes to it as your paper or document develops. The outline must clearly show the framework of your paper, and will also include the sources used in each section of the paper, so that it is clear that you have support for each major point you are making. All citations will be in proper Bluebook academic citation format (footnotes). The sample below is a working document. The citations do not appear as footnotes normally would at the bottom of each page because of limitations with the software program for this writing guide.

Sample Detailed Outline


Detailed Outline -  Book Review of Fareed Zakaria’s In Defense of a Liberal Education[1]


Christina E. Ekman[2]


President Obama’s concern “that in today’s world, college graduates need to focus on the tools that will get them good jobsis shared by many liberals, as well as conservatives and independents. The irrelevance of a liberal education is an idea that has achieved that rare status in Washington: bipartisan agreement.”[3]


I. Introduction


     A. Who is Fareed Zakaria and why should you care what he has to say about education?


            i. Best known as host of CNN’s foreign affairs show, GPS. Born in India in 1964. Came to United States in 1982 and attended Yale, where he earned a BA in History during the cold war, when foreign students had many incentives to come study at American colleges and universities in the form of tuition assistance.[4] Ultimately, Mr. Zakaria earned a Doctorate in Philosophy from Harvard University in Government.[5]


            ii. Was overwhelmed and awestruck by the array of choices available to him as a student. Stood out in stark contrast to the uniformity and technical nature of higher education in his native India. This is what prompted him to study in the United States.[6]


            iii. Has worked as an adjunct professor, editor of Foreign Affairs, Newsweek International, editor at large and columnist at Time, and has written for a number of magazines on international affairs. [7]


            iv. Published several books, served as a news analyst, hosted a weekly TV show on PBS, and in 2008 began hosting Fareed Zakaria Global Public Square (GPS). Includes several best sellers. Dogged by plagiarism allegations in 2013 as well.[8]


     B. Roadmap


            i. General overview of book.


            ii. Arguments and biases.


            iii. Assessment


            iv. Conclusion


II. Organization / Content of book


     A. Book is well organizedstarts out with his own storyhow he came to be a student in the United States during the cold war and what struck him about the American approach to college/university education, as compared to that in most other countries. It is also well-researched and documented.


           i. Coming to America


          ii. Brief History of Liberal Educationback to times of Romans and Greeks


         iii. Learning to Think[9]


         iv. The Natural Aristocracyan examination of the tradition of the liberal education that began in this country with Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin[10]


         v. Knowledge and Power


         vi. In Defense of Today’s Youth


     B. A Look at His Sources


            i. Well researched


            ii. Uses APA citation format with endnotes. Not as effective as Bluebook for allowing reader to see exactly where information was found, and not as efficient as footnotes. There does not seem to be any issue with plagiarism though, which is something Mr. Zakaria was accused of in the past.[11]


III. Evaluation of the Book’s Merits and Weaknesses


      B. What is his bias/agendahe is a centrist and is taking on the liberal and the conservative attack on the traditional American liberal education.[12] 


            i. He styles himself a reasonable centrist, and this is the tone the book takes, as he addresses both the liberal and the conservative positions against a liberal arts education today in this country.[13]


            ii. He thinks there is no substitute for the liberal education, especially in today’s high-tech world. This is based in part on his personal experience, but is well supported by his research. He does acknowledge the merits of a more technical approach to education, but says that both are needed for the well-rounded and successful student who will also succeed post-education in the work force.[14] 


            iii. Three main purposes of the liberal education: teach students to write[15], teach students to speak publicly[16], teach students how to learnlots of explanation of both[17]


            iv. Examples from international test data and what these data really mean. (looks at Israel, Sweden, and the US as compared to other countries with a more “research university” approach to learningtechnical based.[18]  More startups/innovation out of Israel (#1), US (#2) and Sweden (#6) than in other countries in Europe and Asia etc.)


            v. Addresses impact of technology/online education and its impact on higher education/liberal education’s accessibility, and draws some parallels such as the GI Bill which opened up education to more people of lower classeswhich is consistent with the earlier explained views of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. 


            vi. Not very well versed in online education thoughlots of discussion of MOOCS, and none about the impact of for profit online institutions such as University of Phoenix and American Public University System, to name a few. This chapter needed more research/more current information, as reputable for-profit online institutions, which do make education more accessible to more people (disabled students, first responders, deployed service members, stay-at-home mothers and others who do not have the means to attend a brick and mortar institution).


            vii. There is a heavy lobby against such institutions by the traditional colleges and universities for many reasons. That needs to be examined in much more detailsimilar impact to GI Billthat connection not fully examined. Note that tuition has not risen in these institutions to the same degree as it has in traditional schools. (Need citation here)[19]


            viii. Citationwas cited for plagiarism in 2013, but nothing here suggests a problem. Well researched and very detailed citation, though not as detailed and easy to follow as Bluebook (but that is my bias).


Conclusion:  Book is worth reading

[1] Fareed Zakaria, In Defense of a Liberal Education (2015).


[2] Christina Ekman is a retired Army Judge Advocate and an Associate Professor in the American Public University System’s Legal Studies Department.


[3] Id. at 19-20.


[4] Fareed Zacharia.com (Last visited July 23, 2015).


[5] Fareed Zacharia.com (Last visited July 23, 2015).


[6] Zakaria, supra note 1 29-39.


[7]  Id. 


[8] Lloyd Grove, Can Fareed Zakaria Survive A Plagiarism Firestorm? Word Up, 11.12.141:25 PM ET, The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/12/can-fareed-zakaria-survive-a-plagiarism-firestorm.html.

[9] Id. at


[10] Id. at


[11] Richard Leiby, Columnist Fareed Zakaria faces new allegations of plagiarism, The Washington Post, (Aug. 19, 2014) http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/columnist-fareed-zakaria-faces-new-accusations-of-plagiarism/2014/08/19/52bff872-27ed-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html.


[12] Id. at 15-20.


[13] Id.


[14] Id. at 73-5.


[15] Id. at 73-5.


[16] Id. at 75-8


[17] Id. at 78-9


[18] Id. at 90 – 101.

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