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Doing Research

Once you have chosen and narrowed your topic you can begin the process of researching.

   Record what you find and where you found it

(keep good records as you research).

This is the time in the research process to determine what citation style is appropriate for your paper. If you use the form your instructor has recommended, you will record the information in the order established by the form and, thus, save yourself a return trip to the library. Write the bibliographic citation of your source on a note card, one citation per card, or begin a bibliography on your word processor. Your bibliography will be listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the author on your final paper.

TIP: EXPLOIT BIBLIOGRAPHIES OF YOUR SOURCES
The sources cited in the bibliography are good starting points for further research.

  • Look up these sources in library catalogs and periodical indexes.
  • Check the subject headings listed in the subject field of the online record for these books and articles.
  • Then do subject searches using those subject headings to locate additional titles.
  • Remember that many of the books and articles you find will themselves have bibliographies.
  • Check these bibliographies for additional useful resources for your research.

By using this technique of routinely following up on sources cited in bibliographies, you can generate a surprisingly large number of books and articles on your topic in a relatively short time.

Developing a Working Bibliography

Use library and other resources to develop a working bibliography. This bibliography is a list of resources with which you will begin your research. In the process of reading, you will probably use some of the resources extensively; others will probably be repetitious; and still others may be useless for your purposes. (For future reference, you may wish to develop an annotated bibliography.) See Bibliographies for more information

Collecting Information

You will want to put most of your notes in your own words. You can do that by writing a paraphrase or a summary. Write a direct quotation only when it is the best way to state the idea. Throughout the research process, you will need to evaluate which information to include and which to eliminate. If you have not done so before, now is the time to learn to distinguish primary and secondary sources appropriate for your topic, especially Internet sources.

Revised: 07/11



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