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The Research Process

Research is nothing more than digging up information.  If you follow your teacher's directions, you will find that it isn't as difficult as you think.  This page is a basic guide to help you. It is not a replacement for your teacher.

 

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Write Right!

One-Stop Research Planning

1.  First you must plan.

What is your purpose?   

There are a wide variety of reasons to be writing along with types of essays.  Most likely your teacher has assigned you a narrative essay, in which you are telling a story; an expository essay, in which you will explain or clarify a topic; or an argumentative essay, in which you are making a claim and supporting it with evidence.

What is your topic? 

Be sure to pay attention to the guidelines that have been given to you, so you don’t waste any time throughout the writing and research process.  As you are narrowing your topic be sure to double check the following points.

 

  • It should be narrow/broad enough for the required length.

  • It should be relevant.

  • It should be interesting.

  • It should not be common.  (New and interesting topics are always better to keep your teacher's attention.)

Your Thesis Statement

To help you and your reader, you will need to create a thesis statement. This is a one sentence summary of what the essay will be about, and is usually put at the end of the first paragraph. Be aware, as you research, you may rethink the topic of your essay, and therefore, need to change your thesis statement.

2.  Collect your information.  

The Online Stacks, part of the LVA library website, offers several excellent resources.  The encyclopedias and the databases are resources that offer more information than you will need and can use.  When you use these provided resources, you can be certain that the information will be accurate, reliable, and appropriate.

If you decide to use resources outside of those provided by the LVA library, you need to be sure that the resource is reliable and trustworthy for an academic project.  Go to the Selecting & Analyzing Resources Page for more information on how to determine a resource's credibility.

 

One way of keeping track of your resources is by bookmarking websites that offer good information.  Websites like Diigo.com (if you have an account) will allow you to keep track of and save websites for later reference. You can also save sites to your browser's bookmarks or favorites.

 

As you take notes put the information in your own words to help you avoid plagiarism as you write your paper.  However, remember, that the purpose of research is not for you to repeat the words, ideas, or conclusions of others but for you to reach your own.  Nevertheless, it isn't enough for you to put things in your own words.  You must use your research to reach new, personal, and unique conclusions of your very own.

* The CRAAP test was developed by Sara Blakeslee.

2a. Cite your sources.

You should also take notes as you read and keep track of what information you get from each resource. That will help you later when you build your reference page. BibMeCitation Machine, Easy Bib, Scribbr, ZoteroBib, or the citation makers below, can be very helpful.   Destiny Discover will also create a citation of books in the library collection. Also, many of the online resources provided for you will generate a citation that you can copy and paste. There is also information on citation styles on the links below. 

You may ask yourself, "When exactly do I cite?"  To that, I answer, "Better cite than sorry."  You must cite direct quotes, indirect quotes, paraphrases, and summaries if the information isn't common knowledge. Now, you may ask yourself, "What exactly is common knowledge?"  If a random collection of people can answer a question, that would be common knowledge.   More importantly, just because you think you know a fact, your knowledge of it doesn't make this non-citable common knowledge.  Without citations, this information may come across as made up or worse, plagiarized.  

Be sure to always include an in-text citation that works in relation to the resources listed on the works cited page of the research project.  

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3. Organize your information.

Once you have found all the information that you will need, organize it in such a way that it will make sense to both you, the writer, and the person reading your paper.  You can outline or draw diagrams to help with this.  Sites like Bubbl.us can be very helpful here.



4. Creating your final paper.

Once you have collected and ordered your information, you are ready to write.  Don't worry about getting things perfect the first time you put it on paper.  Writing is a process, and you will rewrite and edit before you are finished. Your school Google account provides a great writing tool called Google Docs.  This a helpful collaborative tool as well as one that you can use alone. However, there are also downloadable software that are quite useful.  Microsoft offers Office 365 to all CCSD Middle and High school students (click here for directions on downloading) .  (Libre Office is a free suite that offers the same type of programs as Microsoft Office (including a stand-alone math equation editor that Office doesn’t have). 

 

4a. Double check your work.

Before you can say you're finished, you must check to make sure that you have corrected all of your errors.  (Grammarly is a Chrome extension that can be very helpful with grammar, and all LVA students have an account; be sure to log in through your CCSD Google account.)  Also, make sure that you have gotten all of your information correct.  You should also check that you have followed all of your teacher's directions.  Lastly, make certain that you have chosen a font that can be easily read by tired eyes.  You've gone through a lot of trouble, so make sure that your teacher can read it easily.

Additional Resources 

To help with the writing process there are several helpful resources on the English/Language Arts page under the Online Stacks.

Also, the Purdue Online Writing Lab is perhaps the most helpful resource on the internet.  It discusses several different research styles. 

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