Six Step Research Process

The Research Process The following steps outline an effective strategy
for writing a research paper. You will learn the different steps of the research process
and why they are important. Keep in mind that the process is not always
a straight line from start to finish. Often times, researchers realize they need to backtrack
because they found too much or too little information. Don’t worry; this is a normal
part of the research process. Each time you work through the research process,
you will become a more skilled researcher! 1. Find a Topic What is your “information need”? Begin by
selecting a topic within the parameters of the assignment set forth by your instructor.
Your instructor will likely provide you with specific guidelines for the research assignment
that must be followed. Be sure to choose a topic that you find exciting.
You will find the process much more enjoyable if you are researching and writing about a
subject you like. A great way to begin your research is to state
your topic in the form of a question. Stating your topic as a question will help you be
very clear and specific about the information you will need. For example, if you are interested
in finding out if year-round schooling is a better for students than a traditional school
year, you may ask yourself “Does year-round schooling increase student learning?” Be sure the topic you choose allows you to
find a realistic amount of information to review. Conducting a preliminary search of
information will allow you to determine whether sources of information are available to you
that meet your needs. Begin your brainstorming by scanning the news, books, encyclopedias,
and other reference materials. If you find too much information, you may need to narrow
your topic, and if you find too little information, you may need to broaden your topic. Once you have your topic stated as a question,
you will need to name the main concepts, or keywords to use in your search. You may also
find it useful to brainstorm a list of synonyms and related terms to the keywords. Some examples
for year round schooling include, year-round education, year-round schooling, educational
reform, and K-12 school alternatives. 2. Gather Information There are a couple key ideas to keep in mind
as you gather your information. The amount of information you will need to
collect depends on your information requirements. What kind of information do you need? Do you
need scholarly journals, or can you use popular magazines? There are a number of places that you can
look for information in both print and electronic formats. Books: You may carry out either a keyword
or subject search in the TCC catalog to find books, e-books, and print periodicals. Reference Materials: You will find a number
of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and almanacs that will often fit your needs. Reference
materials may provide you with definitions, explanations, and will highlight other places
to find additional information. Periodicals: Journals, newspapers and magazines
are also great sources of information. Search the TCC article databases for full-text, scholarly
and popular articles. Internet: The Internet does contain some
great information, but you must carefully evaluate the webpages you find. .Gov or .edu
sites are often trustworthy sources of information. There are other sources of good information
that you may wish to use. Audio interviews with experts, primary documents and letters,
museum objects, and government agency pamphlets are a few examples. As you read through the information you have
gathered, be sure to highlight important concepts, and make notes to summarize the most important
parts. 3. Evaluate What You Have Critique your resources for sources that most
support your research thesis. You will probably find that not everything you gathered will
be useful. That is OK, often a good research question changes as your knowledge over a
topic grows. Take the time to evaluate your information
for quality. Your sources of information must demonstrate currency, relevance, authority,
accuracy, and purpose. Keep in mind that your work will be evaluated,
as well. Be sure to keep the source information for each of the resources you use so that
you can properly cite them later. Generally, you need to include the author, title, publisher,
and date of publication. If the item comes from a periodical, you will also need the
journal title, volume, issue, and page number. 4. Organize Information How will your information fit together in
a meaningful way? Your sources are like puzzle pieces that must be put together in a logical
sequence to create a clear picture. Analyze your notes to organize them into themes or
categories. It is recommended that you create an outline
that includes your major points and supporting facts to ensure your ideas are presented in
a coherent manner. Do you have any holes in your argument or
notice any missing facts? If so, you may have to go back and gather additional data. 5. Cite Your Sources Properly It is very important to use information legally
and ethically. Plagiarism can occur intentionally or unintentionally, and violates the TCC Student
Code of Conduct. Be sure to give credit to the people whose ideas you use, and do not
pass someone else’s work off as your own. Citation gives credit to the people from whom
you get your information. Much like you, people spend a substantial amount of time with research.
They work hard and would appreciate the acknowledgement. You can easily avoid plagiarism by documenting
your sources with complete citations in a works cited list or bibliography. Your instructor
will tell you which format to use. 6. Present Your Research You are now ready to communicate your findings!
Your research should be presented in a format that suits your instructor’s specifications.
This may include an essay, paper, presentation, brochure, or some other type of production. If you need help in proofreading or editing
your final product, be sure to make an appointment with someone in the TCC Writing Center. The
staff members in the writing center are quite knowledgeable about English grammar and composition,
and are happy to assist students with their writing assignments. If you have any additional questions, do not
hesitate to contact a librarian at a TCC campus near you. Well, that was a good presentation there.
Hey! What’s going on here? Owlbert! What are you doing! I’m sorry Owlbert, the presentation is all
over, but I’ll tell you what: If students come to our Facebook page and “Like” you,
we’ll talk about bringing you back for a future tutorial. How does that sound? That’s OK; I know you didn’t mean it. Bye-bye Owlbert!

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