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A. Finding Sources

Don't want to cite by hand?

❶Taking notes, paraphrasing, and quoting Taking notes is an important part of doing research.




Use clear segues into adjacent points in your paper. Your essay should flow well, rather than stopping and starting in a blunt fashion.

Make sure that each of your body paragraphs flows nicely into the one after it. Now that you have carefully worked through your evidence, write a conclusion that briefly summarizes your findings for the reader and provides a sense of closure. Start by briefly restating the thesis statement, then remind the reader of the points you covered over the course of the paper. Slowly zoom out of the topic as you write, ending on a broad note by emphasizing the larger implication of your findings. First of all, the conclusion is easier to write when the evidence is still fresh in your mind.

The introduction is, in many respects, the conclusion written in reverse: Avoid repeating exact phrases that you already used in the conclusion. All research essays must be documented in certain ways in order to avoid plagiarism. Depending on the topic of your research and your field of study, you will have to use different styles of formatting.

MLA, APA, and Chicago are the three most common citation formats and determine the way in-text citations or footnotes should be used, as well as the order of information in your paper. This format requires in-text citations. APA format is used by researchers in the social sciences field, and requires in-text citations as well. Chicago formatting is used mainly for historical research papers and uses footnotes at the bottom of each page rather than in-text citations and works cited or references page.

Edit your rough draft. Although it is tempting to simply read over your essay and use the spell-check tool, editing your paper should be a bit more in-depth. Have them edit for basic grammatical and spelling errors as well as the persuasiveness of your essay and the flow and form of your paper.

If you edit your own paper, wait at least three days before returning to it. Studies show that your writing is still fresh in your mind for days after finishing, and so you are more likely to skim over basic mistakes that you would otherwise catch.

If they suggest that you rewrite a section of your paper, there is probably a valid reason for their request. Take the time to edit your paper thoroughly. Create the final draft. When you have edited and re-edited your paper, formatted your work according to the subject matter, and finalized all the main points, you are ready to create the final draft.

Go through your paper and fix all mistakes, rearranging information if necessary. Adjust the font, line spacing, and margins to meet the requirements set by your professor or profession.

If necessary, create an introduction page and a works cited or references page to bookend your paper. The completion of these tasks finalizes your paper! Make sure to save the paper in multiple places, for extra security and print out your final draft. Sample Environmental Research Paper.

Sample Research Paper Outline. Does making a research paper require me to invent something new or it is just about gathering information? It can be for the both, whether you invent something new to implement or you gather some sort of data based valuable information and synthesize it.

Not Helpful 11 Helpful The introduction should set out what you intend to discuss and prove in the research paper, and outline the approaches per topic or heading section. It is also nice to open the topic and lead into it in an interesting way that helps the reader to want to read on.

Not Helpful 18 Helpful To be honest there is no rule book or a set of formulas which will give you the best or better topic. Once you have a number of topics in hand you need to evaluate as to which topic interests you and your audience more.

Not Helpful 10 Helpful See Make a Questionnaire for the method needed. Not Helpful 15 Helpful You can publish a research paper through established journals or you can use open source online publishing sites, such as SSRN or Researchgate. If your research paper is long enough, you could also publish it as a small book or an ebook, and disseminate it via book sales sites and stores.

Not Helpful 16 Helpful If you are numbering the pages, then yes, the second and third pages should be numbered. Yes, but it is best to write a research paper without contractions. If you must use them, make sure they are spelled correctly and used in the right places. Not Helpful 9 Helpful I believe that the questionnaires are attached in the appendix section of the paper with the survey forms, raw data, documentations and other tables. Not Helpful 3 Helpful Long enough to strongly answer your thesis.

If you can cover it in 10 pages wonderful. If you need to utilize 50 pages that is great too. If you are forcing a specific number of pages than your work may come off as too repetitive or poorly written.

You don't want to over exhaust the topics or include unless information just to get a page count. Not Helpful 12 Helpful How can I write correct English words for other languages such as Thai?

There should be a standardized way of writing Thai words in English. If there is more than one convention, you can choose one and state which one you're going to use in the preface to your paper. Not Helpful 7 Helpful 9. Does doing research need to have a site visit or questionnaire? A rule of thumb when doing internet research: One good source to help you determine the credibility of online information is available from UCLA: Check out the Content and Evaluation and Sources and Data sections.

Taking notes is an important part of doing research. Be sure when you take notes that you write down the source that they are from! One way of keeping track is to make yourself a "master list"--a number list of all of the sources that you have.

Then, as you are writing down notes, you can just write down the number of that source. A good place to write notes down is on note cards. This way you can take the note cards and organize them later according to the way you want to organize your paper. While taking notes, also be sure to write down the page number of the information. You will need this later on when you are writing your paper.

Any time that you use information that is not what is considered "common knowledge," you must acknowledge your source. For example, when you paraphrase or quote, you need to indicate to your reader that you got the information from somewhere else.

This scholarly practice allows your reader to follow up that source to get more information. You must create what is called a citation in order to acknowledge someone else's ideas. You use parentheses in your text, and inside the parentheses you put the author's name and the page number there are several different ways of doing this. You should look at your course guide carefully to determine which format you should be using.

Check out more specific information on how to document sources. Using sources to support your ideas is one characteristic of the research paper that sets it apart from personal and creative writing.

Sources come in many forms, such as magazine and journal articles, books, newspapers, videos, films, computer discussion groups, surveys, or interviews. The trick is to find and then match appropriate, valid sources to your own ideas.

But where do you go to obtain these sources? For college research papers, you will need to use sources available in academic libraries college or university libraries as opposed to public libraries. Here you will find journals and other texts that go into more depth in a discipline and are therefore more appropriate for college research than those sources written for the general public.

Some, though not all, of these sources are now in electronic format, and may be accessible outside of the library using a computer. Primary sources are original, first-hand documents such as creative works, research studies, diaries and letters, or interviews you conduct. Secondary sources are comments about primary sources such as analyses of creative work or original research, or historical interpretations of diaries and letters.

You can use a combination of primary and secondary sources to answer your research question, depending on the question and the type of sources it requires.

If you're writing a paper on the reasons for a certain personality disorder, you may read an account written by a person with that personality disorder, a case study by a psychiatrist, and a textbook that summarizes a number of case studies.

The first-hand account and the psychiatrist's case study are primary sources, written by people who have directly experienced or observed the situation themselves. The textbook is a secondary source, one step removed from the original experience or observation.

For example, if you asked what the sea symbolized in Hemingway's story "The Old Man and the Sea," you'd need to consult the story as a primary source and critics' interpretations of the story as a secondary source. An on-line catalog has replaced card catalogs in many libraries as a means of listing and indexing what is in the library. You use an on-line catalog the same way you use a card catalog: So don't feel intimidated if you haven't yet searched on-line; anyway, the directions are right on the screen.

Most of the searches that you do for a research paper will be subject searches, unless you already know enough about the field to know some standard sources by author or title. When using an on-line catalog or a card catalog, make sure to jot down the source's name, title, place of publication, publication date, and any other relevant bibliographic information that you will need later on if you choose to use the source in your research paper.

Also remember to record the call number, which is the number you use to find the item in the library. Magazines are written for the general public, so they contain articles that do not present a subject in depth. Journals are written by and for professionals in various fields and will provide you with in-depth, specific information.

Your professors will expect you to use some journals; in fact, the more advanced your courses are, the more you should be using journal articles in your research as opposed to magazine articles. How do you find articles to answer your research question? It's inefficient to go through volumes of magazines and journals, even if you could think of appropriate ones. Most magazine and journal articles are referenced in either an index or an abstract. An index lists magazine or journal articles by subject.

Find the correct subject heading or keyword to search for articles. Write down all the information for each article. Check the index's abbreviation key if you can't understand the abbreviations in the entry. Make sure to write down all of the entry's information so you can find the article IF your library carries the magazine or journal. If not, you can use the information to request the article through interlibrary loan. Specific indices the "correct" plural of index exist for journals in just about every field of study Business Index, Social Science Index, General Science Index, Education Index, and many more , while there's only one major index to general interest magazines The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature.

Many libraries have many of these indices on their on-line systems; check with the reference librarian if you have a question about indices available on-line. An abstract is like an index with a brief description of the article's content added. You'll soon see that it's great to be researching in a field that has an abstract, since this short explanation can help you make an early decision about the relevance of the article to your research question or working thesis.

A bound, printed abstract takes two steps to use. The first step is the same--find the appropriate subject heading in the index portion and write down all of the information in the entry.

Note that the entry will also include a number or some kind of an identifying code. Then use the number or code in the "abstracts" portion to find a description of the type of information that's in the article. Again, if an article seems appropriate, write down all of the entry information so you can find the article in your library or through interlibrary loan and so you'll have the information for your works cited or references list at the end of your paper.

The most commonly used index to newspaper articles is the New York Times Index, organized alphabetically by subject. Find the appropriate subject heading and jot down the information so you can find the article, which is usually on microfilm, unless you're dealing with a very recent issue of the Times. Your local newspaper also may publish an index, which may be useful if you are researching local history or politics. Encyclopedias provide background information about a subject. Note that you should confine your use of encyclopedias to background information only, since their information is too general to function as an appropriate source for a college paper.

Specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background in specific fields e. Facts on File and Statistical Abstracts provide brief bits of statistical information that can aid your research. For example, if you're doing on a paper on airline safety since deregulation, it's a safe bet that you can find statistics on airline safety problems in one of these reference books.

Other reference books abound e. Take time, at some point, to browse your library's shelves in the reference section to see how many different types of reference books exist and to consider how you may use them. It will be time well spent. The Library of Congress provides an indexing system; most academic libraries index their books using Library of Congress subject headings. The Library of Congress publishes a Subject Heading Index listing all of the subject headings that they use.

Why bother knowing this information? The Subject Heading Index is a good tool for you as a researcher. If you're not getting exactly the right books you need through your on-line subject search, check this index to find the appropriate subject heading to use. If you are finding too much information, check this index to see at a glance all of the various headings and sub-headings for the subject.

You can get an idea of how to narrow down and focus your subject simply by scanning these various headings and sub-headings. Google has another service, Google Books, that will help you find books related to your topic. Just type your research topic into the field and Google Books will provide you with a list of relevant books.

Once you click on a book you like, Google Books will give you a preview of the book and information related to buying the book or finding it in your library. The trick is to weed out the unreliable information.

They help people with a lot of things shopping, searching for flights, comparing restaurants. The LibGuides at Rice University is one example. As far as research is concerned, Google is a double-edged sword.

Those may be two separate things. It provides a great deal of relevant information in a very fast manner, but that information is not necessarily credible. Content on Wikipedia can be edited by anyone—not necessarily an expert or credible author.

The editors at Wikipedia have come a long way in policing the site for bad posts and flagging items without citations; but you should always be suspect of information on the site because of its public nature.

Therefore, Wikipedia is best used at the start of your research to help you get a sense of the breadth and depth of your topic. It should never be cited in an academic paper.


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Using sources to support your ideas is one characteristic of the research paper that sets it apart from personal and creative writing. Sources come in many forms, such as magazine and journal articles, books, newspapers, videos, films, computer discussion groups, surveys, or interviews.

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A. Finding Sources. SUMMARY. Another reason why Wikipedia should not be cited in an academic research paper is that it aims to be like an encyclopedia–a source of reference information, not scholarly research or primary or secondary sources. One must delineate between general reference for general knowledge and scholarly sources for in. Sep 27,  · To write a research paper, start by researching your topic at the library, online, or using an academic database. Once you've found at least 5 reputable sources, outline the information you've learned through your research%().

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Writing a research paper is a crash course in the stylistic conventions of scholarly writing. During the research and writing process, you'll learn how to document your research, how to cite sources appropriately, how to format an academic paper, how to maintain an academic tone, and more.