How to Write a Research Paper/Essay Seminar


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Basic information for writing research papers/essays.

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How to Write a Research Paper/Essay Seminar

  1. 1. Meridian Career Institute presents
  2. 2. A Learning Resource Center Seminar
  3. 3. How to Write a Research Paper/Essay Seminar
  4. 4. Step 1: Choose Your Topic
  5. 5. <ul><li>Writing the paper will be less of a chore if you pick a topic that you find interesting and would like to learn more about. You will naturally have more enthusiasm for something that you’re already interested in. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Don’t pick a topic that is too broad. Narrow your focus to a smaller aspect of a broad topic.
  7. 7. The most common error made by students in choosing a topic is picking one that is too broad.
  8. 8. <ul><li>The broad topic of </li></ul><ul><li>“ Smoking ” </li></ul><ul><li>can be narrowed down to </li></ul><ul><li>“ Effects of Second Hand Smoke. ” </li></ul><ul><li>From there, it can narrowed even further to </li></ul><ul><li>“ Effects of Second Hand Smoke on Children.” </li></ul>
  9. 9. You should also avoid topics that are too technical or specialized. Before you settle on a topic, search the LIRN databases to see if there is enough information to support your research paper.
  10. 10. Step 2: Find Your Information
  11. 11. For broad, general articles, encyclopedias and almanacs are good places to begin.
  12. 12. If you visit the local public library, you might start with sources like the World Book Encyclopedia, World Almanac and Encyclopedia Americana.
  13. 13. These can all be found in the reference section, and the library may have one or more of them available as a subscription database, accessible online from home.
  14. 14. You should also access the online catalog for books on your topic.
  15. 15. Typing in a broad, general subject term like “Smoking” will get you started, but you can save time by narrowing it down to something like “Secondhand Smoke” or “Smoking – Health Aspects.”
  16. 16. You may access the Learning Resource Center’s LIRN databases by going to the blog at:, and clicking on “the LIRN databases.”
  17. 17. These databases contain thousands of reference, magazine, professional journal and newspaper articles.
  18. 18. You can access all the databases by clicking on LIRNSearch or narrow it down by only using databases like InfoTrac or ProQuest.
  19. 19. When you log on to LIRN, you will find a short description of the database’s contents underneath the database’s logo.
  20. 20. If you haven’t already done so, you should view the LRC Orientation Seminar.
  21. 22. <ul><li>The LIRN tutorial begins on slide 49. </li></ul>
  22. 23. As you do your research, you should write down the information on each book or article for your bibliography.
  23. 24. <ul><li>That would include the: </li></ul><ul><li>author </li></ul><ul><li>title </li></ul><ul><li>name of the publication </li></ul><ul><li>date of the article or copyright date of the book </li></ul><ul><li>page number(s) </li></ul><ul><li>month (if known) </li></ul><ul><li>year of the publication </li></ul>
  24. 25. At Meridian Career Institute, APA is the bibliographic style used.
  25. 26. To understand the basics of APA Style, please view this tutorial (with audio):
  26. 27. The LRC’s blog also has information on APA Style.
  27. 28. Simply type APA in the search box.
  28. 29. At least two search results should appear.
  29. 30. Click on the links for more information.
  30. 31. If you need help arranging your citations, click on the links listed in this blog posting.
  31. 32. Citation Builder
  32. 33. Select the type of information source you need to cite.
  33. 34. Enter the requested information, then click “Make Citation.”
  34. 35. The Citation Builder generates citations in several different styles.
  35. 36. Knight Cite
  36. 37. Select APA Citation Style, then enter the information requested in the boxes.
  37. 38. Son of Citation Machine
  38. 39. Select APA.
  39. 40. Select the type of information source you need to cite.
  40. 41. Enter the information requested.
  41. 43. A research paper is only as good as its sources of information.
  42. 44. <ul><li>To help ensure that your sources are reputable, follow these instructions: </li></ul><ul><li>Find out how many sources are required. </li></ul>
  43. 45. <ul><li>Find out what type of resources are required. </li></ul>
  44. 46. <ul><li>Don’t overlook your textbook as a source. It’s full of factual information. </li></ul>
  45. 47. <ul><li>Start your information search with printed material before going to online sources (the materials on the LIRN databases are considered printed materials). </li></ul>
  46. 48. Recent and current issues of newspapers, magazines and professional journals offer the most up-to-date information.
  47. 49. The major problem with online sources is that many of them are written by non-professionals. Some online sources don’t even have a byline, so you won’t be able to cite the name of the author. The major problem with online sources is that many of them are written by non-professionals. Some online sources don’t even have a byline, so you won’t be able to cite the name of the author.
  48. 50. Step 3: Making an Outline
  49. 51. Once you’ve completed your research, you should organize your materials by making an outline.
  50. 52. <ul><li>If you were writing an research paper on the life and works of William Shakespeare, the outline could look like this: </li></ul>
  51. 53. <ul><li>If you prefer, you may draw diagrams instead of using an outline. </li></ul>2. Subtopic 3. Subtopic 4. Subtopic 5. Subtopic 6. Subtopic 1. Subtopic b. i. a. c. b. a. a. b. b. a. b. a. b. a. a. b. i. i. i. Main Topic 7. ii.
  52. 54. Step 4: Organizing Your Notes
  53. 55. Now you need to organize all the information you’ve gathered.
  54. 56. This is also the step where you critically analyze the information that you have gathered.
  55. 57. You should check the information for accuracy and verify that it is up to date and correct.
  56. 58. If you have doubts about your sources of information, confer with your instructor.
  57. 59. Avoid including any irrelevant information or information that you don’t understand.
  58. 61. <ul><li>Avoid plagiarism which is defined as: “The unauthorized use of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own.” </li></ul>
  59. 62. <ul><li>At most schools, documented evidence of plagiarism will automatically earn the student a failing grade on their research paper. </li></ul>
  60. 63. In some cases, it can result in the student’s expulsion from the school.
  61. 64. You can devise your own way to organize your notes. One common method is To use different colored pencils, highlighters or ink to correspond with the different sections of your outline.
  62. 65. Step 5: Writing
  63. 66. With the completion of your research and your outline, you’re ready to write your paper.
  64. 67. Start with the first topic in your outline and re-read all the notes that you’ve made on that topic.
  65. 68. When you write, use the technique that suits you best. That could be quotes, summaries or paraphrases.
  66. 69. <ul><li>When you’re done writing, check for </li></ul><ul><li>these things: </li></ul><ul><li>Are my statements and arguments presented in a logical sequence? </li></ul><ul><li>Did I properly cite all my sources, so I’m not plagiarizing? </li></ul><ul><li>Did I make any grammatical errors or mistakes in capitalization and </li></ul><ul><li>punctuation? </li></ul>
  67. 70. After you’ve read through it, get someone else to read it. Another person may see mistakes that you didn’t notice.
  68. 71. Step 6: Type the Final Draft
  69. 72. <ul><li>When you’re satisfied that your paper is complete and error-free, you can print it out on a good quality printer with no smudges or faint images. </li></ul>
  70. 73. <ul><li>Re-read the assignment sheet to make sure that your paper meets all of the requirements. Proofread it one final time for spelling errors, punctuation, grammar and missing or duplicated words. </li></ul>
  71. 74. <ul><li>If you can, finish the paper a day or two before it’s due. Then you won’t be up late feverishly working to get it done. </li></ul>
  72. 75. <ul><li>When you’re satisfied that you’ve done your best, congratulate yourself on a job well done. </li></ul>