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Research

While research projects teach specific content, they also serve to hone your information literacy skills. In today’s world of information overload, it’s especially important that you learn to access and manage information in a competent and responsible manner.

This site supplements the instruction you will receive in class, reviewing the basics and linking to additional information.

Any big research task is a process. Follow the steps, and your life will be much easier! Click here for a copy of the full research packet.

IDENTIFY YOUR TOPIC

Ask: “What do I already know?” What do I need to find out?”

Frame your research question. This drives all of your research and turns into your thesis.  A good research questions has four traits.  It is:

Analytical: In order to answer the question, you must take a stand, and defend your position.

Weak:  What are the causes of the Russian Revolution?

Strong:  If Nicholas II had stayed out of WWI, could he have avoided the Russian Revolution?

Arguable: You can take a stand on either side of the question, and still defend it reasonably.

Focused: Not too broad to develop your argument thoroughly.

Researchable: Given the resources you have available, you can find enough information.

Once you have your research questions,  develop other questions to guide your search.  Ask “Which one?” “How?” “What if?” “Suppose” “Why?”
Further information: Questioning

PLAN YOUR SEARCH

Choose your key words. These are the terms you’ll use as you search. Consider synonyms, related terms, etc.

Determine your best resources:

  • books
  • databases
  • interviews
  • the internet

Further information: Key Words

FIND YOUR INFORMATION

Take notes (cards, or use Evernote or Noodle Tools)

Organize by topic and source
Further information: Note Cards

EVALUATE YOUR INFO/SOURCES
Analyze your sources.  Are they:

Authoritative?

Credible?

Relevant?

Current?

Further information: Using Information

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!

Organize notes

Create your final product

PLAGIARISM

Plagiarism—using someone else’s ideas, words, or creative work without giving them credit—is taken seriously at ISU. In order to avoid inadvertent plagiarism, you need to learn to summarize, paraphrase and use quotations correctly. If you need more practice with that, check out these links.

University of Wisconsin Writing Lab

Owl at Purdue

You can also look here for complete refresher course, or talk to Ms. Hurd.

For information about proper citations, go to the Citations page.

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