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How do I use RESEARCH STRATEGIES to organize my research paper
1) Start here
- Understand the assignment (read the syllabus or speak with the instructor)
What type of paper? ...argumentative essay?
What type of resources can be used? scholarly articles? books? websites? interviews? films?
Does the topic need to be approved by the instructor?
Which style manual must be used? (see Citation tab) This will help you collect citation information while you research.
What are the deadlines for draft and final versions?
How should the assignment be submitted? email? paper? Moodle? MyNPC?
- Find a topic.
- Narrow and define the topic. (YouTube video)
- Create a thesis statement. (YouTube video)
2) Choose the best resources
- Library Catalog – for in-depth printed material, online documents, electronic books, audio and visual
- Journal articles (use Library Databases) - for timely and historical scholarly articles (varies – 5-50 pages)
popular versus scholarly (YouTube video)
What are Databases? A-Z Databases
3. Use primary or secondary resources? (YouTube video)
- Internet versus database searches (YouTube video)
- Internet sites – how to get the best results quickly.
Comparing search engines. Use Google? Yahoo? Academic Info? Bing? Google Scholar?
What URL extensions tell you ( Word doc).
Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask.
3) Select search terms & methods
(to use in Library Catalog, Databases, internet searches)
- Keyword versus controlled vocabulary results. (YouTube video)
- Finding the correct controlled vocabulary in your resource.
- Use Boolean operators (PDF) to help narrow search results.
- Other search tricks.
Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier
4) Take notes
- Create concept map (YouTube video) of the points to make in your paper.
- Each time you find something interesting, place the information on note cards; Clearly mark the source of all the facts, quotes, ideas that you want to use so you can properly cite the resource as required by the specific style manual you are using. See the Citation tab for ideas of the information you will need.
5) Format your paper
- Be sure you know which style is required – APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, CBE for Sciences.
- Each NPC library has a Term Paper Assistance section with these style manuals.
- The Citation tab shows exactly how to use MS Word to create the format.
6) Write your paper
- Be aware of any copyright restrictions.
- Cite any material that you used.
- The Citation tab has links to writing and grammar guides.
- The Avoiding Plagiarism page has suggestions and a link to the VAIL tutorial so you can avoid plagiarism.
7) Proof your paper
- Use grammar and spell checker in MS Word or whichever software you are using.
- Read the paper out loud to see if it makes sense.
- Have a friend read it. Does it make sense? Did you prove your point? Did you avoid plagiarism? Is the format in accordance with the required style manual?
- Ask staff at the Student Writing Center if they can assist with proof reading.
8) Store your paper
- While writing, save your work about every 30 minutes so you don't "lose" it by miss-stroke or power outage.
- Use your personal storage device; OR
- Email the document to yourself; OR
- Use Google Docs.