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First, you develop and narrow down your topic -- the general idea of what you're going to be researching. From that, you need to develop your research question, i.e. what is the question you are attempting to answer by doing your research? This, in turn, will form the basis for your paper's thesis (your claim/argument/answer) which you'll explicitly state in your introduction.
Develop Your Thesis
Your thesis is where you put forward your argument in a concise, declarative way. It is typically one sentence long and comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. You should only develop your thesis after you've started doing your research. You can have a thesis in mind as you start your research, of course, but be prepared to change it if you find it's unsupportable with the information available to you.
Thesis statements should be:
Specific - lay out exactly the arguments/reasons you're using in your thesis
Contestable - if you can find a definitive yes/no answer within a few minutes of Google searching, it's not arguable enough
Narrow - not about all of privacy ever, but this little sliver of a privacy issue in this particular time and society
Provable - or at least something you can persuasively argue.
Your thesis statement should essentially give your reader a preview of what arguments you'll be presenting over the course of your paper.
Background information or overviews or fast facts -- you want to look up something, be able to quickly learn what the heck it is, and then move on. These types of sources are relatively short and while they may cover a lot of ground about a topic, they stick to basic who/what/when/where facts, not deep analysis.
Don't cite these reference sources -- use them while you're figuring out your topic keywords.
Dozens of complete reference books on arts, business, education, history, law, literature, sciences, and technology, including the popular sets of Short Stories for Students, Novels for Students, Poetry for Students, and Drama for Students.
Find short overviews of your topic to get you started!
Credible (But Non-Scholarly) Sources:
The easy, accessible, affordable sources of information that are good but not quite as rigorous as academic works. News stories and magazines are a couple typical examples, but regular websites can fit in here, too.
Find both news and reviews as well as access to historical NY Times issues dating back to 1851.
First time user: To get access, you need to first register for an NYT account.
1. Click the link. You will have to enter your LSC library barcode.
2. Select Create Account and complete registration fields. Use your LSC email address!
3. Once you have an account, you may access NYTimes.com and NYT mobile apps like any subscriber, or go through this link but select "log in."
US Major Dailies provides access to The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. The content is available by 8 a.m. each day and provides archives stretching as far back as 1985.
A popular source of psychology articles written at a more informal level.
What about books?:
Books, like websites actually, exist on a spectrum: some are popular, some are scholarly. They get a little bit of a credibility edge by having to pass through a publisher, at least! They also exist on a spectrum of depth, with some providing nice introductions to topics (like your class textbooks) while others offer a deep dive into a very focused subject.
Over 100,000 ebook titles covering a full range of academic topics. General reference works are also included.
Picking a topic: 3 votes (9.38%)
Narrowing my topic down: 2 votes (6.25%)
Forming a research question: 3 votes (9.38%)
Finding sources: 3 votes (9.38%)
Picking out good sources: 9 votes (28.13%)
Organizing my information: 5 votes (15.63%)
Writing citations: 2 votes (6.25%)
Writing my paper: 5 votes (15.63%)
Total Votes: 32
Managing Your Research
While conducting research you will need to capture the articles and associated citations. Your process will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools below:
OneDrive - Cloud storage from Microsoft Office 365. 1 TB free for Lone Star College students.
Evernote - The basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.
Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.