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Beginning The Research Process

In this presentation, we'll take a look at some of the skills and tools you'll be using to complete a research assignment.
by Bronwen Densmore on 18 September 2012

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Transcript of Beginning The Research Process

Why are you asked to do research in your classes?

Research is a process that allows you to come to an informed conclusion about a topic. When you do research as part of your academic work, your job will be to communicate that conclusion to your audience. Good researchers are able to demonstrate their understanding of a topic and support their claims with factual and verifiable information.

Coming up with a research plan will help you save time. Before you begin gathering resources, you should think about how you want to approach your topic. If your topic is too broad, you'll have trouble summarizing it. If it's too narrow, you may have trouble finding resources. Remember to have fun!

Even experienced researchers have to experiment with search strategies before they find what they're looking for.

Not finding what you need? Try modifying your search term or searching a different collection. The City Tech Library has a collection of subject guides and tutorials that can provide guidance. Take a look here:

http://library.citytech.cuny.edu/instruction/tutorials/index.php

or here
http://library.citytech.cuny.edu/research/subjectGuides/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

to get started. You may wish to use our Research Starter to help you begin organizing your findings.

Download a copy here:
http://library.citytech.cuny.edu/instruction/pdf/ENG1101worksheet.pdf Scientist Ruby Hirose at work.
http://flic.kr/p/9nwcCb What Is Research?

Simply stated, research is the process by which someone (you!) engages in a search for information.

Why Do Research?

Research can be used to expand understanding about a particular topic, answer a question, create new knowledge, or provide support to an argument or opinion. All researchers (even the most experienced ones) use the research process as an opportunity to learn by exploring existing information. You may find find that you think differently about your topic as you learn more about it, so you may need to alter your plan or adjust your topic based on the things you learn.

The next few slides offer advice about how to get started and provide links to some resources that can help you understand the elements of the research process. Identify your Research Question.

The research question is like a thesis statement: it lets your audience know exactly what you're investigating. If you are unsure what you want to focus on, try browsing reference sources (like encyclopedias) or the internet to get a better sense of what might interest you.

See examples of research questions at the following link:

http://writingcenter.gmu.edu/resources-template.php?id=59 Decide what kinds of information you're looking for.

You will find that you'll use different kinds of information to support your research (these may include data, news, opinion, scholarly research, and others). Different kinds of information are found in different places.

The following link will take you to a guide to different types of information and suggest places where each are likely to be found.

http://www.lib.vt.edu/help/research/info-sources.html Generate a list of keywords to use while searching.

Part of your search strategy will involve making a list of the kewords and phrases that you will use to search for resources in library catalogs, databases, and on the internet. You can use what you find to fine-tune your search. For instance, if I'm researching something like slam poetry, I might also want to use words or phrases like beat poetry, spoken word, or hip-hop poetics, since different writers and different databases might use different words.

For information about choosing keywords, look here:

http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/how/keywords.htm#keywords For information about boolean operators (the words in between the keywords), look here: http://www.internettutorials.net/boolean.asp You will need to evaluate ALL of the information you find.

Is it reliable? Is it appropriate for the kind of work that you're doing? What is appropriate for one research project might not be appropriate for another, so make sure you know what's expected for each assignment you do.

Click here to read more about evaluating information:
http://www.lib.purdue.edu/rguides/studentinstruction/evaluation/ Use the information you've gathered to make an informed conclusion.

Base your conclusion (whatever it is) on the facts that you have gathered. You will also want to make sure that you are using information ethically, which means representing your resources accurately and providing appropriate citations so that your reader can understand your research process.

Click here to find more about citation tools and guidelines:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ Adelie Penguins
http://flic.kr/p/5vznoV Charts by Grape City http://flic.kr/p/7sugSQ Boolean operators are the words that you use to tell a finding tool (such as an internet search engine, database or library catalog) how and where you'd like your words to appear.

For example, my keywords might be: Monster Movies, Vampires, Werewolves. I might use the boolean terms "and, or (and) not" in the following search phrase to rule out a particular set of results:

Monster Movies AND Vampires OR Werewolves NOT Twilight You can always ask a librarian for assistance. Librarians can recommend search strategies and help you to identify useful resources in the library collections and online:
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