What Is an Organizational Format?

Direction of Thought

An organizational format assumes, at its most general, the structure of your thought process. There are many ways to consider this. One of the most important is the deductive method. In this case, you begin with the most general description of an issue, and move to more specific manifestations of it. In legal thinking, such an approach will begin with a general understanding of an issue and the basics of its legal history. From that, you would then go to specific cases or the manifestations of the legal basis. In placing the specifics under the general concept, you can rationally deduce how the general legal concept can be understood in “real life” situations.

Methods of Argument

Another useful format is the inductive, or empirical, method that begins with the collection of data to answer a question. In researching stocks, you can deal with the volatility of a certain firm by gathering its weekly price changes over a certain period. This can then be matched up with specific events in the economy, both domestic and foreign. Once this data is collected, your job under this format is to see if there are any correlations between macroeconomic changes and the firm's stock value. In this case, you are going from the more specific to the most general through induction, or looking for patterns in the data you have collected.

Axioms

All organizational formats assume statements that are considered to be true either by universal assent or local certainty. An axiom is something assumed, it is not argued. “Correlation does not equal causation” is an axiom, and an important one, as is “the larger the sample, the more sure the results.” This assumes that you need to argue that a mere correlation must be causal given the data and its revealed patterns and that these patterns mean something. Most axioms are assumed by any reader, but in some cases, it becomes a part of an organizational format. A deductive format begins with basic axioms from which facts can be drawn. An inductive format tries to find patterns in the data so clear that they must be axiomatic, such as “higher levels of education are related to higher incomes.”

Data

Data must be collected and interpreted. The collection of data assumes an empirical or inductive format. In a deductive format, the data are assumed to exist in your axioms, but they need to be shown in real cases and situations. Collecting data does little but establish facts. These facts do not interpret themselves but must be analyzed in the research paper. The axiom here is that causes exist and can be found through regular occurrences in the data. It is in the correlation and discovery of patterns that useful information is uncovered.

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