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Planning and Writing a Research Paper

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1 Planning and Writing a Research Paper
13 Planning and Writing a Research Paper

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

9 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.

10 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. 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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

18 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.

19 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.

20 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.

21 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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