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13. Planning and Writing a Research Paper. Learning Outcomes. Discover a meaningful research subject. Narrow your research subject. Create a researchable question. Write a preliminary thesis. Locate library and Internet sources. Conduct primary research through a survey or interview.

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Planning and Writing a Research Paper

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Planning and writing a research paper


Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • Discover a meaningful research subject.

  • Narrow your research subject.

  • Create a researchable question.

  • Write a preliminary thesis.

  • Locate library and Internet sources.

  • Conduct primary research through a survey or interview.

  • Take notes from research materials.

  • Create an outline.

  • Compose a first draft of your research paper.

Discovering a research subject lo13 1

Discovering a Research Subject (LO13.1)

  • Find a suitable topic.

  • Understand the parameters.

  • Know what is acceptable.

  • Select your topic carefully.

  • Pick a topic that is interesting and meaningful to you.

  • Utilize various methods to find a topic.

Narrowing a research subject lo 13 2

Narrowing a research subject (LO 13.2)

  • Narrow your broad topic.

  • Know the assignment requirements to help you decide how to narrow your topic.

  • Consider the length of the assignment.

  • Know the number and type of sources required.

  • Know the assignment deadline.

Creating a researchable question lo 13 3

Creating a Researchable Question (LO 13.3)

  • A researchable question serves as a guide to the research process.

  • An effective researchable question helps to develop a thesis.

  • Determine what you know about your subject.

  • Decide what you would like to know.

  • You can go back and revise your question after you start the preliminary research.

Write a preliminary thesis statement lo 13 4

Write a Preliminary Thesis Statement (LO 13-4)

  • A researchable questions cannot replace the thesis statement.

  • Draft a working thesis.

  • Make sure your thesis includes your subject and your opinion.

  • The working thesis will help you select sources.

  • You may refine your thesis later as you gather new ideas from your research.

Library and internet sources lo 13 5

Library and Internet Sources (LO 13-5)

  • Computerized Card Catalog

    • You can determine if the item is available or checked out.

    • Search by title, author, ISBN, or subject.

    • Type key words to find what you need.

    • Spell the words correctly.

    • Try different key words until you find what you need.

    • Use “and,” “or,” or “not” to help narrow a search.

    • Print or jot down important information about your sources.

    • Use the information to help locate the source on the shelf.

The stacks lo 13 5 contd

The Stacks (LO 13-5 contd.)

  • Use the call number on the spine of the books to locate your sources.

  • Determine how the library organizes its shelves.

    • The Dewey Decimal System divides subjects into ten categories.

    • The Library of Congress Classification uses twenty lettered categories.

  • Look at the books nearby to determine if they may be useful.

  • If you can’t locate a book, ask the reference librarian for help.

Periodicals lo 13 5 contd

Periodicals (LO 13-5 contd.)

  • Periodicals include magazines, newspapers, and journals.

  • Periodicals are good sources.

  • They contain precise and up-to-date information.

  • Magazines and newspapers tend to be more general.

  • Journals are more in-depth.

  • Current periodicals are organized alphabetically by title.

  • Old issues may be bound together and kept in the stacks.

Computerized databases lo 13 5 contd

Computerized Databases (LO 13-5 contd.)

  • Check with your librarian to find out if a specific database is available.

  • If a database is available, ask the librarian for a password.

  • When you locate possible sources, read abstracts of the articles.

  • Email articles to yourself that may be helpful.

  • Make sure to use the full article not just the abstract.

  • Some databases include: Info Trac, ProQuest, LexisNexis, eLibrary, and eGlobal Library.

Reference materials lo 13 5 contd

Reference Materials (LO 13-5 contd.)

  • Most reference materials cannot be checked out.

  • Do not use reference materials as primary sources.

  • Online reference materials are also available.

  • Be aware that Wikipedia is not a credible source for a research paper.

  • Go to the web site of the American Library Association.

Resources contd

Resources (contd.)

  • Audiovisual materials are non-print media.

    • You may find useful sources in this section of the library.

    • The shelves are usually organized alphabetically and by type.

    • Ask your librarian for help if you are unable to find what you need.

  • Internet searches

    • Use as a supplement to your traditional sources.

    • You can access sources by using a Web browser.

    • Search engines can help you find what you need.

    • Remember, search engines are not sources.

Tips for conducting online research lo 13 5 contd

Tips for Conducting Online Research (LO 13.5 contd.)

  • Spell your search words correctly.

  • Use Boolean Logic to make your search more precise.

    • Use “and” to look for sources that contain both terms.

    • Use “or” to look for any of two or more words.

    • Use “not” to exclude one or more words.

  • Click on hyperlinks to get more information.

  • Use the “back” and “forward” arrows to navigate Web pages.

  • Bookmark or print out useful sources.

Evaluating sources lo 13 6

Evaluating Sources (LO 13.6)

  • Author and publisher

    • Look to see if the author has the appropriate credentials.

    • Make sure the publisher and/or the Web site is reputable.

  • Date

    • Check to see when the information was published or posted.

    • If the information is too old for your topic, find more current information.

  • References

    • Check to see if the author documented sources.

    • Check to see if the source included a bibliography.

    • If no sources are provided, you may consider looking for other sources.

Evaluating sources contd

Evaluating Sources (contd.)

  • Bias

    • Make sure the information provided is fair.

    • Determine if the author may have an agenda.

  • Effectiveness

    • Decide if the content is useful.

    • Determine if the organization is clear and logical.

    • Check for information accuracy.

Taking notes lo 13 7

Taking Notes (LO 13.7)

  • Summarizing is condensing ideas from articles, chapters, or passages using your own words.

    • Include main ideas but not specific details.

    • After writing a summary, go back to the original to check accuracy.

    • Summarizing helps in managing large amounts of information.

  • Paraphrasing is restating a sentence or passage in your own words.

    • Your goal is to revise the original and keep every idea.

    • Change the sentence structure and word choice.

    • Don’t overuse paraphrasing in your paper.

    • Paraphrasing is helpful when the original is complex or technical.

Taking notes contd

Taking Notes (contd.)

  • Quoting is taking someone’s exact words and putting quotation marks around them.

    • Quoting should be used sparingly.

    • Only use a quote due to vivid wording or to show an authority’s words.

    • Make sure to copy the statement word for word.

    • Use an ellipsis (...) if you omit words.

    • Don’t alter the intended meaning of the author.

    • If the original passage contains an error use (sic) immediately after.

Primary research lo 13 8

Primary Research (LO 13.8)

  • Surveys are questionnaires intended to gain information from people who are familiar with the research topic.

    • Clarify your purpose by knowing exactly what you want to gain.

    • Choose your participants carefully.

    • Set clear expectations for the respondents.

    • Design effective questions.

    • Compile and interpret the results.

Primary research contd

Primary Research (contd.)

  • Personal Interviews

    • Clarify your purpose.

    • Choose your interviewee carefully.

    • Determine how you will conduct the interview.

    • Prepare your questions ahead of time.

    • Be courteous to the interviewee.

    • Take thorough notes during the interview.

Creating an outline lo 13 9

Creating an Outline (LO 13.9)

  • Select the major points.

  • The outline is the framework of your entire paper.

  • Be flexible during the writing process if all points aren’t covered from the outline.

Composing lo 13 10

Composing (LO 13.10)

  • Write a first draft of your research paper.

  • Consider your Rhetorical Star.

  • Follow the steps of the writing process.

  • Make sure your voice is strong within your paper.

  • You may need additional paragraphs to support each point.

  • Cite your sources.

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