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Research notes

  1. 1. Topic Refinement and Basic Searching ENG102 Dr. Dunley
  2. 2. Topics <ul><li>This week, you’ll select and write a proposal on a topic that you will research over the next two weeks. </li></ul><ul><li>These slides will cover refining a topic and basic research skills. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Topic choice is like a conversation… <ul><li>“ I want to do a paper on game design .” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ok… what about game design interests you? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ I’m interested in how nonplaying characters fit into storylines .” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What kind of storylines? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Role playing , and especially Final Fantasy </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The underlined terms could make for fruitful search terms. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Continued: <ul><li>The student chose the following research questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do nonplaying characters impact the flow of the storyline in Final Fantasy 12? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The student supplements this question: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I see a positive impact for three reasons and I’m curious as to how these characters actually “work” within that game. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Ask the Right Questions <ul><li>See the .pdf titled “research questions for different purposes” that is shared under doc.sharing for other ways to consider your topic. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The way you “scope” the paper will help determine the sources you’ll find in the weeks to come. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Continued… <ul><ul><ul><li>In the prior example, the student will need to focus on uses of nonplaying characters from a general game design perspective as well as within that game itself. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>He might choose to research reviews of the game, analysis of the Final Fantasy Series as a whole, as well as basic resources on why/how NPCs are used by designers in general. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Surface Searching <ul><li>This is what we do every day when we Google a resource or briefly browse Proquest. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We’ll cover advanced searching and specialized resources in the weeks to come. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For now, let’s quickly cover a way to find more on your topic. </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Power of Google <ul><li>Google is one of the most popular search engines and is relatively easy to search, yet it can be tricky to get good results. </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s say I’m researching a place for my historical research. I’ve written an article on this place before and want to see if anyone else has published further. </li></ul>
  9. 9. My topic: Possner’s Castle <ul><li>I know where it’s located, who built it, and when. </li></ul><ul><li>I wrote a short history of it before and want to add to it, but need to know what’s been done since. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Results… <ul><li>Over 100,000 results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Needs to be narrowed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>My article is the top article </li></ul><ul><ul><li>That makes me happy but doesn’t help my research! </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Bad Results <ul><li>Notice these results… the two terms are split. Google is searching every instance of Possner, Posner, and Castle. That’s likely why the results are bad. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Trying again <ul><li>Search “possner Castle,” seven results </li></ul><ul><li>Search “Possner’s Castle,”three results </li></ul><ul><li>Search builder’s name w/quotes: “Herman G. Possner,” 9 results </li></ul><ul><li>Search building’s address, “1332 Narragansett blvd,” 4 results </li></ul>
  13. 13. Surface searching <ul><li>I repeated my search on Proquest, using the same terms, both with and w/o “containment quotes.” </li></ul><ul><li>I found a couple more articles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I can imagine what I’d find if I really refined the search string, where I looked, and my search strategies in general. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Access proquest here: </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Topic Refinement <ul><li>Once you have a sense of what’s out there regarding your topic, you can refine accordingly. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In my case, I got some leads on the importance of the man who built this historical structure. No one dipped into his biography in any detail… that will be my job to round out my existing research and further contribute to the cause. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Continued… <ul><li>As you search, consider these questions to help refine your topic: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. What recurring ideas and information have you found? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. What problems are discussed in your sources? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. What similarities and differences have you found among your sources? </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Continued <ul><ul><li>4. What agreements and disagreements have you found in your sources? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5. Have you noticed any gaps--anything that's missing--in the sources you've read? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6. How do the ideas and information you've found relate to your personal experiences and interests? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Credit to Mike Palmquist from Colorado State University for formulating these questions. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Surface Search and informal resources <ul><li>A surface search is a quick way to see what’s commonly available on a subject to get the ball rolling, but is NOT a substitute for serious research. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One reason is the number of “informal” resources you’ll encounter. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Informal Resources <ul><li>In emerging technologies using informal resources can be beneficial to your research for the following important reasons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Currency : Informal sources may be more up to date based on the amount of time it may take to publish on a topic. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not Part of Academia, yet : Your topic might not have many resources that are peer reviewed, because it has not been widely accepted. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Types of informal resources <ul><li>Wikis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you MUST use a wiki, you must also cite the exact moment you reviewed the information (time stamp). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Additionally, refrain from citing/ quoting wikipedia, as this is a generic encyclopedia and not appropriate for graduate level research. The same can be said for encyclopedias in general. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other wikis exist, and are interesting ways to communicate technical information. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Types of Informal Resources <ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs are frequently used as editorials or opinion papers, and should be treated as such. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you cite a blog, you need to explain the author’s credentials, and clearly indicate how this enforces your research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It would be inappropriate to cite a blog if you can not verify the author is significant in your field of study. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For example citing a blog about robotics written by someone in the industry is fine; however a blog about robotics written by an enthusiastic high-school student would require substantial justification. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Types of Informal Resources <ul><li>Discussion Groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Citing Jester112 is never appropriate; however, you may cite a discussion topic or idea if appropriate to your research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct quotes from discussions groups are only acceptable if you can identify the author and justify their credential. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Use informal sources with caution <ul><li>If you are uncertain if an informal resource is good, ask yourself: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the author have the right credential? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the author in the industry? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this up to date information on my topic? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> can help you find out the date of last update. Simply go to and place the URL in the Wayback Machine search box. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  23. 23. More questions to pose: <ul><ul><li>Can I defend using this resource? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can I talk to,IM,email, or call to the author to verify what I’m reading? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do other people in my field respect this author, idea? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> can help you find out. It tracks the number of times the site is linked by others, allowing you to quickly and easily see how well the site is received. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. A note on formal/scholarly sources <ul><li>Articles and ideas tend to be verifiable once a scholarly community reaches a consensus that an author has created a proven or provable thesis. </li></ul><ul><li>Consensus tends to be reached through peer-review. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A researcher presents their finding to their scholarly community and the community accepts that work (or not), afterwards if it is accepted it may be published through that community. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Scholarly community? <ul><li>Members of a scholarly community performing peer review include: </li></ul><ul><li>Professors and Academics </li></ul><ul><li>Editors </li></ul><ul><li>SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and Corporate Researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Other researchers, etc. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Skepticism=good <ul><li>Good researchers have a healthy degree of skepticism about resources. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What sources did the author use? Are they good? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the author interjecting personal beliefs or biases into their argument in a way that makes their findings reflect some sort of personal agenda? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the author come to a reasoned hypothesis, and did they prove it? If not, what is the merit of their resource (does it raise new questions?) </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Conclusion <ul><li>Good researchers even question peer reviewed resources … and they even question at this early stage in the game. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At UAT you can find a universe of peer reviewed resources. At the library there are books and periodicals. Through the library website you have access to Proquest, Lexis-Nexis and First Search database tools. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We ’ ll cover these in a later lecture. </li></ul></ul></ul>