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How to do Quality Research for Your Research Paper

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Presentation on theme: "How to do Quality Research for Your Research Paper"— Presentation transcript:

1 How to do Quality Research for Your Research Paper
(Ithaca College Library - Library Resources and Methods of Research) (

2 Your Objectives: Be able to explain what your assignment is
Be able to list reasons why you should not procrastinate in your research Be able to describe plagiarism and its effects Be able to explain benefits of background reading Be able to describe the process of refining your topic Be able to identify factors in evaluating research sources


4 Make Sure You Understand Your Assignment
If you don't understand your assignment, you can’t do it well, so follow the directions your teacher provided. If the assignment doesn't make sense, ask immediately. Waiting a few days or a week – or until the night before the assignment is due will only create a disaster for you.

5 Planning Your Time Why NOT to Wait Until the Last Minute to Start Working on Your Research
REASON ONE: Other students in English, history, science or other classes may also be doing research papers as well, which means some of the sources you will want may not be there. Good time management will provide extra time to seek out other or additional materials. REASON TWO: You will need to use a computer… Need I say more? REASON THREE: Most things take longer than you think. Good and proper research is neither quick nor easy. Students usually underestimate the amount of time the entire project will take, including the details and actual time required for things like typing the works cited.

6 Why NOT to Wait: REASON FOUR: Your ideas will improve over time, but it takes time just to think. Some ideas and thoughts will come to you immediately; some will come to you only after a lot of reading and research. If you wait until the last minute or leave only a small amount of time for research and revising, your best ideas may not show up, and neither will your best work. REASON FIVE: Help takes time. Your teachers and librarian are busy also. Waiting until the last minute may eliminate their helping you.

7 Choose a Good Attitude Start your research with the right attitude.
Come to class and the library prepared. “Keep an open mind. When you do your research, neither come with your mind made up looking only for someone who agrees with you, nor come empty headed, willing to accept as fact whatever you read. Be skeptical. Don't trust what you read; corroborate facts, challenge opinions. But be willing to be wrong. If someone challenges your opinions, test the new idea and try to learn from it. Critical thinking may be the greatest skill you can learn in life. It is integral to research in the library.”

8 Be Honest & Avoid Plagiarism
Do your own work. Avoid using websites that plagiarize. Remember that your teacher can copy and paste any part of your text into Google and check whether it is plagiarized.

9 Your Topic & Background Reading
Before you begin a big research project, test the water. That's what background reading helps you do. You can do this through books, newspaper articles, academic journals, popular magazines, Internet and other electronic resources, and, of course, reference sources. Reference sources can be a good place to start of a research project.

10 How Background Reading Can Help You
It gets you up to speed. By looking for an overview of your topic, you can first get a preliminary understanding and then concentrate on details later. It let's you know if your topic is appropriate and narrow enough. Check the card catalog and periodical indexes to see if there appears to be enough information on your topic. Do this right away. Discovering that you can’t find enough information is not something you want to do at the last minute.

11 Background Reading cont’d
Background reading tells you how to go about your research because many of the sources that provide overviews of subjects can be useful in suggesting approaches you might take with a topic. Background reading helps inform you about the jargon used in the topic. Learning this jargon up front will make your research easier. Background reading can also tell you where to go with your paper. You might as well let those who have researched this topic before do some of the work for you. Find out what sources other people have used. If a particular author, book, or article is cited often in your background reading, make special note of them. This should tell you that these authors or works are important to this particular topic.

12 Refine Your Topic Explore the possibilities - be open minded and don't limit yourself. Write something down. Even a single sentence written down can help you think clearly. Focus, focus, focus. Once you have started with a general concept, you need to limit your topic to put it in focus. A good way to do this is to use the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions.

13 Refine Your Topic cont’d
Think of questions that you would want your research to address. Asking questions about your topic will give you a direction for your focus. Consider the whole project. Keeping in mind all that you have to do for each part of the project should give you a better idea how to refine your topic, whether the topic is researchable, how broad or narrow to make it.

14 Refine Your Topic cont’d
“Keeping a clear focus in mind will help you sort through and evaluate sources. Based on what you learn, you will change and refine your topic, but try not to be distracted or led away from the main thesis. Your focus should guide you as you make these changes. Research is not compiling little piles of unconnected facts. A clear focus will help tie your ideas together and allow you build a cohesive unit.”

15 Evaluating Your Sources (Without Reading Them)
Before you spend any length of time with a source, you need to quickly determine if it is worthwhile to read/use it. Read the preface or introduction or the first few paragraphs because they usually include the author's purpose. Then read the summary or conclusion because it reviews the author's main points. Next, skim chapter or section headings to get an overview of the material. Then skim the index to look for key words or phrases related to your topic. Finally, browse through the material, especially sections that appear most directly related to your topic because these sections will help you observe the author's opinions and style.

16 Then what? Once you’ve skimmed your sources, it will be easier to decide which ones to concentrate on. Once you have a general idea about a source, then you can better decide whether or not it is a worthwhile source for your research. If it is useful, relevant, and otherwise important to your project, it becomes all the more important to take the time to read it, at least the important parts of it for your research.

17 Factor #1 in Evaluating Sources:
Relevance and Content: Is pertinent to your research? Once you determine that it is relevant, then you need to figure out the quality of its content.

18 Factor #2 in Evaluating Sources:
Type of source and intended audience: If the source was written to entertain or advocate a particular viewpoint, it is much different in usefulness and value than one that is mainly designed to inform or report on a scholarly or scientific endeavor.

19 Factor #3 in Evaluating Sources:
Determine an author's credentials: Does this person have any academic background or other expertise that qualifies her or him to write in this field?

20 Factor #4 in Evaluating Sources:
Timeliness: How old is the information? Is the information up-to-date and accurate? For your particular research, is using older materials appropriate? If an article about a current event has been written recently, does it cover the event objectively?


22 Prove it Explain what your assignment is.
List reasons why you should not procrastinate in your research. Describe plagiarism and its effects. Explain benefits of background reading. Describe the process of refining your topic. Identify factors in evaluating research sources.

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