The Basics of Research http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
The Research Paper
Writing a research paper is one of the more rewarding experiences in academics. Furthermore, many students continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is important.
With diligence, organization, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), you will find that you can achieve great things through research and writing.
Research: What it is
A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition.
The research paper serves not only to further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to increase her knowledge in that field.
Research: What it is not
A research paper is not simply an informed summary of a topic. It is neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an overview of a particular topic.
Instead, it is a genre that requires one to spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the intent to offer interpretations of the texts, and not unconscious regurgitations of those sources.
Choosing a Topic
It is important for a student to keep in mind that an initial topic may not be the exact topic about which he ends up writing.
Research topics are often fluid, and dictated more by the student's ongoing research than by the original chosen topic. Such fluidity is common in research, and should be embraced as one of its many characteristics.
Where do I begin?
There is neither template nor shortcut for writing a research paper; again, the process is one of practice, experience, and organization, and begins with properly understanding the assignment at hand.
Therefore, in order to become an experienced researcher and writer, one must not only pay particular attention to the genre, topic, and audience, but must also become skilled in researching, outlining, drafting, and revising.
What kind of information are you looking for?
Do you want facts? News reports? Research studies? Analyses?
Where would be a likely place to look?
Which sources are likely to be most useful to you? Libraries? The Internet? Academic periodicals? Newspapers? Government records?
How much information do you need?
How many sources of information are you looking for? Do you need to view both sides of the issue?
Needed Sources for COM 101
Guidelines for this course require that students use at least one credible book, one web site, and one scholarly journal or database article for each paper (except the narrative essay).
You will know well in advance what other, if any, sources will be required for particular papers.
Not all information is valid, useful, or accurate. Evaluating sources of information that you are considering using in your writing is an important step in any research activity.
While there is a huge quantity available, there is a very uneven level of quality.
People want to convince you to agree with their opinions, rely on their data, consider their perspective, or accept them as experts. In short, you have to sift and make decisions all the time, and you want to make responsible choices.
While the internet can make research easier, it can also make it more confusing. Below are some links to excellent online sources to aid you in your search.