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.
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. There are different ways of determining how credible a resource is. One method is called the CRAAP* test. By applying to CRAAP test to each resource, you can determine its Currency (Is the information current?), its Relevance (Does it relate to your topic) , Its Authority (Is the author qualified to write about the topic?), its Accuracy (Is the information accurate and unbiased?) and its Purpose (Why was this resource written?). If a resource doesn't pass each of these questions, then don't use it.
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 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.
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. BibMe, Citation Machine, Easy Bib, and Scribbr can be very helpful as you do this. Destiny Discover will create a citation of books in the library collection. Also, many of the online resources that are provided for you will create a citation that you can copy and paste.
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 the link for directions on downloading) . Open Office and Libre Office are free suites that offer 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 add on that can be very helpful with grammar. 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 sure that you have chosen a font that can be easily read by tired eyes. You've gone to a lot of trouble, so make sure that your teacher can read it easily.
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. It is linked below.
* The CRAAP test was developed by Sara Blakeslee.