Research Is Your Friend

Do you hate research? Do you get anxious before having to do a paper? Do you procrastinate until the last minute to avoid doing research? Umm. Sorry, I can’t relate, but I can help!

One of the words that comes up in the Thesaurus in MS Word (yes, I use the thesaurus, it’s your friend) for research is investigate. Investigate means to follow all clues, leave no stone un-turned, follow the gumshoes (or something like that). In other words, research is not a search for a phrase or a sentence in Google. It’s just not. And you cannot go through life with this attitude if you are to be a successful student.

Here are some tips to research:

1. Investigate something you like or think you might like. Sometimes you can’t pick your own topic, but find an aspect of it that you do like (or kinda like).

2. Search your library’s databases for your topic first to get an idea of what has been written. This is where you can fine tune your topic and to see if there is enough research to back it up. When you find some good resources, create a word document or use a citation management tool like Zotero to organize your resources.

3. If you have found enough research, great, go to the next step. If there is not, you can do one of two things: a) pick another topic or b) ask your teacher if you can write on this topic and get it published, adding to the knowledge base.

4. Use your library’s databases again to investigate your topic more thoroughly. You might have to find print sources (YES, we still have those) or use microfilm, microfiche, or use Interlibrary Loan from your library.

5. If at any point you become frustrated or think you aren’t finding the right kind of sources, Ask a Librarian! They want you to ask them, that’s why they are there.

6. Create an outline of your paper or presentation (on paper or in your head). Normally you should have an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion. You could also have an outline like this: abstract, background, major points or arguments (at least 3 of each), conclusion.

7. Start writing. You can start writing at any time, but by now you should be so in love with your topic, you should be able to write at least a paragraph or two for each section.

8. Read through your rough draft or have someone else do it. Most schools have a writing center of some sort where student workers are hired to read your paper and give you tips and suggestions. Use them.

9. Read through your paper again to fix any minor errors (citations, spelling, grammar) that may have been missed.

10. Turn it in!


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