Lesson 1Research Strategies Curriculum and Instruction 199 Introduction to College Research Instructor: Amber Burtis
The 7 Steps of Research There are 7 steps you need to go through in order to write a research paper: 1) First, DEVELOP your RESEARCH TOPIC and your SEARCH STRATEGY for finding information about that topic. 2) Then, start looking for BOOKS …… 3) And ARTICLES about your topic. 4) It also never hurts to search the WEB for additional information on your topic. 5) Then you’ll need to EVALUATE the SOURCES you’ve found. 6) CITE your SOURCES and KNOW ABOUT PLAGIARISM…… 7) And finally WRITE your PAPER.
Overview of Lesson #1 This PowerPoint will focus on step 1 of the research process: Developing your Research Topic and your Search Strategy. The PowerPoints for Lesson 2-6 will focus on steps 2-6 of the research process. We won’t actually talk about the final step (step 7 - Writing your paper), but you should keep in mind that you can use this process for any class you need to write a paper.
Developing a Research Topic FIRST, read the final project guidelines for this course thoroughly, noting exactly what is expected of you. Note the number of resources you need to have for your final project, what citation style you need to use, and other important requirements. …. like when it’s due. SECOND, choose a research topic. Choose a topic that is interesting. Pick something you already know a little bit about or something you won’t get bored with after a week. Sometimes an instructor will assign you a topic, but for this class, you’ll be choosing your own topic.
Developing a Research Topic THIRD, know the difference between SUBJECT and TOPIC. SUBJECTS are similar to the majors at SIUC. Music is an example. Music is very general so it would be considered a subject. So would other majors like Chemistry, Biology or English. TOPICS are more specific than subjects. To get a topic you need to narrow the subject of Music down further to something like “musicians in 20th century America” or Biology down further to “endangered birds in South America.”
Developing a Research Topic FINALLY, change your topic into a question. Instead of just saying your topic is “jazz music” or “musicians in 20th century America” think of a question you want to answer in your paper. For example: “Who are the important singers in the history of American jazz music?” “What types of music were popular in 20th century America? “Who are the most important saxophone players in the history of American jazz music?”
Developing a Research Topic One more important thing to do: Use “Goldilocks and the Three Topics.” Think about whether your topic is too broad, too narrow, or just right. Will you be able to answer the question you’ve asked in the previous slide? If the topic is too broad, that usually means there is way too much information you’ll need to collect in order to answer your question. If it’s too narrow, that usually means there is no way to answer the question because there isn’t enough information about that very specific topic.
Developing a Research Topic “Goldilocks and the Three Topics” examples: Too broad - “Jazz music.” Too narrow – “Who were all the most important musicians of all time?” Just right – “Who are the important singers in the history of American jazz music?”
Goldilocks Examples For Assignment #1 you will need to chose a topic for your paper, so start thinking about that now. Take a look at some examples of the topics previous students have picked: Example 1: Censorship. This topic is too broad. Try to focus it on something like: Should the government be allowed to censor the media? How does censorship effect the music industry?
Goldilocks Examples Example 2: Polar bears. This topic is too broad. What do you want to know about polar bears? Try to focus it on something like: How will global warming affect polar bears? What are the features of the natural habitat of the polar bear?
More Goldilocks Examples Example 3: Listening to heavy metal music makes high school students more likely to commit school shootings. This topic is too narrow. It’s not likely you’ll be able to find enough research out there that would support your claim. Try to focus it on something like: Does heavy metal music make children more violent? How does music affect behavior?
More Goldilocks Examples Example 4: Should illegal immigrants be granted citizenship? This topic is just right. It gives you enough to focus on without being too specific. It’s also phrased as a question, so that makes it easier for you to think about writing and organizing your paper. Now let’s move on to your RESEARCH STRATEGY……..
Developing your Research Strategy Step #1 The first step is to determine how you will present the information: What kind of paper will you be writing? Will you be writing an essay based solely on your opinion? Or will you be writing a research paper that is backed up by the information you find in journal articles and books? Note: You will not be writing a paper for this course. However, you will be doing all the steps that lead up to it and putting them into an annotated bibliography.
Developing your Research Strategy Step #2 The second step is to figure out the purpose of the assignment: Are you writing the paper to persuade the audience to do something? To inform the audience of an important topic? To meet this goal will you need to present facts and statistics or can you simply give your opinion? Note: The goal of the final assignment for this course is to inform the audience about an important topic.
Developing your Research Strategy Step #3 The third step is to get an idea of how much information you will need: If you are writing a 15 page research paper you may need as many as 20-30 sources of information. If you are writing a 2 page opinion essay you may only need a few sources. Note: The final assignment for this course is annotated bibliography with 20 sources.
Developing your Research Strategy Step #4 The fourth step is to determine if you need a certain number of each type of source. Note: The final assignment for this course requires 20 sources: you are required to have at least 3 books, 3 articles, and 3 websites. You can choose a mix of sources for the rest, but you cannot have any more than 5 websites. You must use the Morris Library website to find the majority of your sources.
Developing your Research Strategy Step #5 The fifth step is to get started with your topic. Do you already know a lot about your topic or do you need to start from scratch? If you don’t know much about your topic you may have to read some background information about your topic first. Note: You can find background information about your topic from Morris Library’s online encyclopedias. Search for your topic at http://libguides.lib.siu.edu/referencematerials . You can also find information on the 1st floor of Morris Library in the reference section. That’s where you’ll find encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials.
Types of Sources Now that you have your research topic it’s time to get started looking for sources. Here are the main sources you’ll be using for the final project: Reference materials (provides background information – encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, directories, etc.) Books (provides more in-depth information than reference materials) Articles (provides up-to-date information from recent studies - journals, magazines, and newspapers) Web pages (provides very current information and provide many points of view, but need to be evaluated
Coming up……… These steps will be covered in more detail in the upcoming lessons: Finding Books: Lesson 2 Finding Articles: Lesson 3 Finding Web Pages: Lesson 4 Evaluating Sources: Lesson 5 Citing Sources: Lesson 6 Important Note: During each lesson take detailed notes of the sources you find for your annotated bibliography. Write down the citation information for each source. It will make compiling your annotated bibliography much easier. Citation information includes the title, author, and publisher.
Assignment Go to the course homepage and do Assignment #1. E-mail me the assignment (either as an attachment or with the answers in the body of the e-mail) and then go to Blackboard to take Quiz #1 under the Assessments link.