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Steps in the Research Process

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Joanna Taylor

on 23 February 2014

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Transcript of Steps in the Research Process

Step 1: Frame Your Question
Before you can begin
the process,
you need to have a
researchable
question.

Step 3: Organize your Ideas
Once you've got your sources read and annotated, you have to organize your ideas to write your paper!
Step 2: Find Your Sources
Step 4: Present Your Findings
Tips to Making a Good PowerPoint
Research
Your questions, your passions, your answers
What do you care most about?
What kinds of things do you wonder about as you fall asleep at night?
What issues in your community or the world make you angry/sad/excited?
These are your passions. They make good topics to research because you'll stay interested over the course of your entire project.
Part B: Formulate Questions
There are many types of questions, but only some of them will help you towards your research paper.



Too thick questions
Are based on opinions rather than facts
Have infinite answers
Are unfocused
Just right questions
Are fact-based
Have multiple sources
Are specific and focused
Lead to an analytical answer with multiple parts
Can be answered well in a 5-7 page paper
For example:
Why is there racism?
What is the meaning of life?
Is there life on other planets?
How can I become successful?
These are some of life's great questions, and they can lead to good research questions, but don't work well on their own.
Too thin questions
Are too specific
Can be answered in one word, phrase, or process
Only need one source to answer completely
For example:
Why are leaves green?
How many days are in a year?
At what temperature does gas freeze?
How much does a gallon of milk cost?
These questions are important, because they help you find answers to specific information, and can help add up to a research paper. But they are not research questions by themselves.
Learn the difference between these 3 types of questions:
For example:
How did the Great Migration change life for African-Americans during the early 20th century?
What causes AIDS to spread so quickly in Africa, and how can it be prevented?
Why is hemp currently illegal, and what are the industrial and commercial uses for hemp?
These are the questions you are aiming to write! Note that all of the examples clearly define the topic, focus on a specific time, person, event, or subject, and need to be answered with a claim--there are multiple parts to the answer, based in facts.
Next up, you'll need to find sources for your research. You need to have at least 5 sources for your paper.
Part A: Keywords
In order to find useful sources, you need to search specifically, and adjust your search as you learn more.
Use keywords alone or combined into phrases to find useful, focused information.
First
, consider the parts of your question that are essential to its meaning.
For example: "What are the arguments for and against gun control? How has gun policy changed in the past 20 years?
Keywords would be:
gun control
gun policy
for
against
change
Second,
think about what you already know about your topic.
In this case, you might think of:
Second Amendment
handguns
assault rifles
school shootings
National Rifle Association
Third
, think about synonyms for these terms. Often, a particular field of study has specific ways it refers to things. Finding these is crucial, and synonyms are the first step.
Here, you might think of:
weapons
AK-47
gun rights
pros
cons
1990-2010
As you work, add more words to your list. You should try to find general sources first, which are very helpful for finding Keywords.
Part C: Identify Sub-Questions
A Note About Wikipedia
:

It IS useful! But not as a source to quote in your paper. It can provide good background information, and keywords/ideas for you to follow up on. Most important, it can be a good place to find links to better sources.

Begin there, and use its information to find keywords and
FOLLOW THE LINKS
on the page to new sources.
Think of these questions like the Goldilocks story: you want the oatmeal that's JUST RIGHT!
A Few Just Right Question Tips
The best just right questions are those that ask you to think about one or more Habit of Mind.
All of you will use evidence in your paper!
How did/does ___ impact ___?
Connections
Relevance
Evidence
Perspectives
Possibilities
Reflection
What are arguments for and against _____?
What are the pros and cons of _____?
How does _____ connect/relate to _____?
What are the similarities/differences between ____ and _____?
What would happen if_____?
What options are there for ______?
Your conclusion and journal entries will include reflection.
Sub-questions are the smaller questions that add up to answer your research question.
Ask yourself: "What do I need to find out to answer my question thoroughly?"

If you can't do this, your research question isn't ready yet!
These may be questions that ask for:
definitions
dates
names
steps in a process
Or, they may be questions that identify sub-topics of your research question. You may have to get some background knowledge before finalizing these questions. For example, if your question is:
"How has Boston's geography changed since it was founded? What factors led to these changes and how have they impacted the city?"
You'll need to find out:
original land size
specific times geography has changed
reasons people changed the geography
methods used to alter the geography
impacts on people
impacts on the environment
Sub-questions help define the paragraphs you're going to write!
A good set of sub-questions now means you've already got your outline written.
Part B: Verify
Not all sources are created equal.
Some are much more useful and reliable than others.
Make sure your sources are solid!!
How to Tell:

Do you understand the assumptions the author or organization is making?
Does the information they present agree with the information others present? If not, why?
What different perspective are they taking?
This does not mean you can’t use a source, but does mean you need to be careful about HOW you use it.
For each source, ask these questions:
1. Is the author or organization a recognized authority on the subject?
How to Tell:

Look for the author’s name with a quick biography of him/her.
Does he/she have a degree in the subject you’re studying?
Do they have experience in the field?
Is the organization well-known and well-respected?
Do you and/or your teacher know of the organization?
How to Tell:

This doesn’t have to be the author directly. Just a way to report bad information to the website publishing the page is enough. However, if you CAN contact the author, that’s even better.
2. Is there a way to contact the author or organization?
3. Is the website professional?
How to Tell:

Is the site well-laid out?
Is it easy to read?
Does it look like it was created by a professional web designer?
It shouldn’t have blinking red & black background or fluffy bunnies all over it. This does not guarantee reliability, but it definitely helps.
This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing.
How to Tell:

Does the author of this page tell you where he/she got their information?
Can you click on the links to their sources, and gain more sources yourself? If so, feel free to use their sources as yours—you will find different things important in the source than they did.
4. Are there citations and/or links to other sources?
How to Tell:
As with a professional site, this shows an amount of care and purpose put into the website. If there are many misspellings or grammatical mistakes, it may mean that the author is not well-informed.
5. Is the site well-written?
6. Is the site unbiased? If not, can you recognize and account for the bias?
Part C: Annotate
Now you've got to read and take notes.
You have
a
choice:
Print
or
annotate online
.
Make sure you've got a system for organizing and keeping track of your printouts.
Losing your sources is the worst!
Protip: Put a list of your sources in your notebook!
As you read, highlight important facts & ideas.
Paraphrases
put passages from a source into your own words.
A good tip: cover a section you found important,

and write what you found in your own words. Note the page.
Summaries
put the main idea of an entire source or long passage into your own words, using only the main points.

When you finish with each article, write a 3-5 sentence summary that will help you remember what's in the article later on.
Part A:
Part A: Outline
Before you can start writing, you've got to plan your paper.
All outlines contain the following elements:
Thesis statement
Specific points that
build
to prove your thesis statement
Specific evidence to support each point proving your thesis
Your Source for each piece of evidence.
There are several ways to outline. Choose a method that works for your brain.
Extra Help:
Writing A Thesis & POD
Part B: Write & Cite
The final step is to present your research findings to the class and the world!
Phrases
Clusters
Sentences
These use short phrases to summarize what you mean to say in each section.
Thesis: "Climate change is beginning to impact our cities and lives on a regular basis."

Summer 2012 drought in the midwest
63% of country impacted (NYT1)
devastated corn crop (Dept. of Agriculture)
Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast
unusual weather pattern (HuffPost)
higher sea levels= wipeout of towns on New Jersey Shore (NYT2)
public transportation infrastructure failures (Washington Post)
Thesis: "Climate change is beginning to impact our cities and lives on a regular basis."
This outline uses a graphic organizer to help visualize the groupings of information. You can add as many branches as you need.
1. Summer 2012 drought in the midwest
2. Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast
unusual weather pattern (HuffPost)
higher water levels= wipeout of NJ towns (NYT2)
devastated corn crop (Dept. of Agriculture)
63 percent of the country impacted (NYT 1)
This type of outline writes out whole sentences of evidence for your paper.
Thesis: "Climate change is beginning to impact our cities and lives on a regular basis."

In summer 2012, a massive drought hit the country, devastating crops and drinking supplies in the midwest.
According to the New York Times, the drought affected 63.2 percent of the country in mid-August.
The Department of Agriculture estimated that the corn crop would be at its lowest in 17 years.
Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern United States at the end of October 2012, devastating New York City and New Jersey.
Sandy was particularly surprising because of a strange weather pattern that scientists think was caused by melting arctic ice. (HuffPost)
Sea levels have risen over the past 20 years, which meant that towns across the New Jersey shore were wiped out. (NYT2)
The storm pointed out the huge flaws in the transportation infrastructure of New York when tunnels flooded. (Washington Post)
public transportation infrastructure failures (Washington Post)

Do all of your headings (primary topics/ideas) directly support your thesis?
Does all of your evidence (topic/idea supports) directly support your headings?
Is your information and research presented in the most logical, natural way for your reader to approach? If not, rearrange it now.
Did you include any information that doesn't seem to fit the scope of the project or assignment? If so, cut it.
These helpful tips taken from Portland State University's Writing Center: writingcenter.pdx.edu
With this type of outline, you should also number your main points to make sure that you know which order you'll present them in.
Before you go on to write your draft, recheck your outline one last time:
Your Thesis and Plan of Development provide a framework for your paper.
This helps you write, and your reader understand.
Thesis: The 1-2 sentence CLAIM that you are making in response to your research topic.
Plan of Development: The 1-2 sentence summary of the main ideas you will present to support your thesis.
Thesis statements should:
Make a Claim--Take a position on your topic. Why is it important/interesting/worthwhile?
Be Specific--don't be vague about your claim. Use key words that will guide your argument.
Be Singular--only make one claim.
Have discussion value--there should be multiple points you can make to support the thesis.
For more help, check out the tips at the University of Illinois Writing Center: http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/thesis/
Your POD should be drawn from your outline. Condense the topics for each of your supporting arguments into 1-2 sentences.
Example
Topic: Fairy Tales
Bad thesis: Fairy tales are fun for children to read.
Revised Thesis: Fairy tales provide children with models for morality by presenting magical examples of good and evil.
This is a claim, but it's vague and unclear. It doesn't show original thinking.
This more specific claim gives the reader a sense of the argument you'll make throughout the paper.
POD: Fairy tales are set in other worlds, often with princes and princesses fighting goblins and witches, and often end with happiness. These elements allow children to separate right from wrong, and imagine a good life.
This POD indicates several paragraphs, which will explain the elements of fairy tales, and their effects on children's moral development.
1. Short and sweet on screen.
2. How Many? It Depends.
3. Use pictures, but carefully.
4. Edit!
Use bullet points. Do NOT write in paragraphs.
You'll be talking, so you can explain longer ideas yourself. Just give us the basics.
No more than 4 bullets per slide.
Organize your slides in order with your paper. Each paragraph should be 1-2 slides. Your thesis and conclusion need slides as well.
Images matter! Visuals help keep your presentation interesting. But be careful about putting words over images, and the layout on the slide. We have to be able to read.
A sloppy powerpoint has typos, doesn't include sources, and is hard to read. Avoid easy-to-catch-and-fix mistakes!
You've made it this far! Now follow your outline and flesh out your argument.
As you write, make sure you are citing your sources to avoid plagiarism.
Keep track of:
Author
Article Title
Publisher (organization/website)
Date of publication/update
Place of publication
Collect citation information for each source you decide to use
There are two types of citation, and you have to do them BOTH.
In-Text
Bibliographic
These tell your reader that you are using information from a specific source as they read. They refer to the bibliographic citations at the end of the paper.
These provide the full citation, allowing your reader to go back to the sources themselves to learn more about your claims and evidence.
In-text citations should give just the first piece of information that will appear in the bibliography, and a page number.
This usually means the author's last name.
Sometimes it means the title of the article or piece.
In-text citations go inside parentheses, BEFORE the period at the end of a sentence.
Example: Experts warn that climate change will increase our average yearly temperature by up to 7 degrees fahrenheit by 2100 (Koch, 1).
If you give credit to the source in your sentence, you can just give the page number at the end of the sentence.
Deciding What to Cite
If you have been answering your sub-questions from the beginning of the class, this is easy!
Just fill in the evidence that answers each question!
Example: According to the New York Times, young people who might have become bankers have been lured into teaching by the recession (1).
Different types of sources have different-looking citations. Look at the examples below for more specifics. But, in general:
Author names are listed last name, first name.
Book Titles are Italicized.
Article Titles go in quotation marks.
Include the most recent date of publication for websites whenever possible.
Pay attention to Punctuation!
One-Author Book
Article from a website
Personal Interview
Magazine Article
Entire Website
Newspaper Article
Important! Sometimes, pieces of information are missing. If you can't find something, skip it and move on to the next piece.
There are 3 basic ways to use your sources in your paper:
quotations, paraphrases, and summaries.
You will need to cite them all in your paper.
Quotations
are words taken directly from the text. Highlight, underline, or copy these words exactly. Note which page you found them on.
go to www.scrible.com
set up an account
drag the scrible button to your brower's toolbar.
when you go to a useful site, click the scrible button.
use the tools to annotate as you would on paper.
save your annotations when you're done.
When you want to get back to them, just open your library.
Keep track of which sub-questions you are finding answers to. Write yourself a note in the margin about connections you've made or questions you still have.
You need to cite ALL words, ideas, images, or other information you get from a source--written, personal, or visual.
This means that any quotes, paraphrases, or summaries from your notes MUST be cited, EVEN when they are in your own words.
If someone else said it, thought of it, or did it, cite it.
But, not everything needs to be cited. And, you should make sure that you have significant parts of your paper that don't need to be cited--this is your analysis. The way you put your information together, and the conclusions you come to supporting your thesis are your own!
Also, "common knowledge" does not need to be cited. Examples of common knowledge include:
generally-accepted facts (the sky is blue)
dates of events (WWII started Sept. 1, 1939)
urban legends/folklore/common stories
In general, it's probably common knowledge if you can find the same information in at least 5 credible sources.
For more information on formatting your citations, visit: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/

Also, tools like easybib (http://www.easybib.com/) can be very helpful. However, you must be careful using these, as they often pull the wrong information from a cite, giving you completely wrong citations. Remember, you are smarter than a computer!
What is research?
Research is systematically investigating what is already known about a a topic in order to reach new conclusions and establish new facts.
Why do research?
Research is the basic way that our society builds on its own knowledge, solves problems, and invents new ways to do things.
Knowing how to do good research--find credible, reliable sources, combine what you learn, write a cited research paper, and present your findings--is an essential skill not just for college, but for life.
Ok, but how?
This presentation will walk you through all the steps in the process, from choosing a question, to finding and verifying sources, to writing up and presenting your findings.

Best Effort!
Congratulations!
Nice work!
Hey, You're Done!
created by Joanna Taylor, 2013
In this class, we will cite using MLA format.
As you brainstorm, remember the difference between a Topic and a Question.
Topics
are general subjects for your research. Examples of topics include:
Climate change
Tattoos
Child abuse
HipHop
Questions
are specific information that you want to know about a topic. Their stems include:
Who?
What?
When?
Where?
Why?
How?
Should?
Is it possible to?
Topics can lead to many different questions
Because many questions can come from one topic, it's important to try out several, or even combine them, to ask for what you really want to know.
Analyzing your Evidence
As you write, don't forget about Analysis! This is your chance to say something original--to make the paper your own.
Analysis is your explanation, interpretation, judgement, or conclusions about the evidence you've presented.
It's how you combine ideas from multiple sources, compare them, and show your own thinking. It's how you connect your evidence to your thesis statement.
Here are some sentence stems to help get you started:
This is important because...
This shows that....
______ and ______ are similar/different because.....
This idea is good/bad/helpful/confusing/useful because....
This connects to...
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