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Assignment | iSchool English II Research Paper: Getting Started

Fall 2018 | English II | iSchool High

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Research Process

Step 1: Background Information. After you identify your research topic and some keywords that describe it, find and read articles in subject encyclopedias (not Wikipedia). Credo Reference (see link under Find Information tab) contains items that will help you understand the context (historical, cultural, disciplinary) of your topic. Background information is the foundation supporting further research. Class textbooks also provide definitions of terms and background information.

Step 2: Dig Deeper. Exploit the citations within background information articles to dig deeper into your subject. Bring the keywords to Academic Search Complete or JSTOR databases to develop your research further. At this stage ask questions of the information specialists (librarians) to be sure you are in the right resource and using effective research strategies.

Step 3: Note Taking. Take good notes as you read. You will save time if you take notes that are in your own words (paraphrasing).

Step 4: Create Citation. Locate citation tools within the databases to help you create MLA citations. You may be able to copy and paste the citations into your tentative "Works Cited" page. Be sure to check the accuracy with an expert source (see Writing & Citing tab).

Selecting a Topic

First, you need to get acquainted with your topic. Illustrated couple on dateThink of it like going on a date: you're trying to get to know the other person (your topic) without scaring them off because you're trying to talk about marriage, houses, and grandkids (i.e. your "real" research) on the first date. And, of course, once you've gotten to know them better, you're able to buy them gifts and guess what they would like, because you've taken the time to establish those little basic details.

Benefits of Background Research

  • Illustration icon of thinking personCONTEXT! You can't really speak coherently about the impact of the automobile on society if you aren't also aware of what the horse-drawn carriage society was like, what the state of manufacturing was like, the purchasing power of the auto's target demographic, and so on.
  • You learn the JARGON. Scholarly articles are written by experts, for experts. They don't usually take the time to remind their readers what a term or process means, since the assumption is the readers already know. This can also present a barrier to finding those articles, as well. What's a non-expert to do? You've got to learn to speak the language of the field.
  • IDEA DEVELOPMENT! Let your research help you do research. As you're learning about the context and picking up on new terminology, you'll also be noticing key people, places, and events that relate to your topic... all of which will help you delve into your deeper research more effectively.

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