Writing a research essay mary Ellen Haley Center for Academic Development make a schedule



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WRITING A RESEARCH ESSAY Mary Ellen Haley Center for Academic Development

MAKE A SCHEDULE

  • Writing a research essay takes more than a day or two to do well. Plan a schedule and stick to it. You might use the schedule below to determine how much time you need to complete this essay:

STEPS IN THE SCHEDULE

  • Step:
  • Pick topic
  • Find, evaluate and select sources
  • Make notes, keeping publication info for each source
  • Write your working thesis, answering research question
  • Review notes and select best sources to support thesis
  • Do By:

STEPS IN THE SCHEDULE, CONTINUED

  • Step:
  • Make outline of thesis/support
  • Write draft
  • Get feedback on draft
  • Revise draft
  • Prepare list of works cited (using proper format)
  • Edit the draft
  • Submit the draft
  • Do By:

Choosing Your Own Topic

  • If your professor asks you to pick your own topic, free-write on one of these questions to get started:
  • What issues interest, frighten, inspire me?
  • What am I interest in doing in the future (personally or professionally)?
  • What famous person interests me?

Create a research question

  • If your professor does not assign a specific research question, after you have selected a topic, make up a question to guide yourself:
  • Examples:
  • Should sex offenders be required to register in their communities?
  • Should assisted suicide be legalized?
  • Should the government have the right to wiretap U.S. citizens during wartime?

FINDING SOURCES

  • Be sure to consult with the reference librarians to help you find appropriate online and in print sources. Some questions you might ask the librarian:
  • How do I use the catalog? Can I access the catalog from home?
  • What resource is a good start point for my topic?
  • How do I find a good source?
  • What Internet search engines are reliable?

Periodical Indexes and Databases

  • Periodicals consist of journals, magazines and newspapers. Periodical indexes will help you locate where to find these sources. Some popular databases (online) and indexes include:
  • InfoTrac
  • Readers Guide to Periodical Literature
  • New York Times Index

ENCYCLOPEDIAS

  • While encyclopedias give a good general idea about a topic, most professors will require you to use periodicals and books written by experts in your discipline.

STATISTICS

  • Good support for your thesis often comes in the form of facts and figures. For sound data on population, geography and economics, go to:
  • www.census.gov

Online Research Sites

  • The Bedford Research Room- www.bedfordmartins.com/researchroom
  • Citing Electronic Sources-
  • www.ipl.org/div/farq/netciteFARQ.html
  • OWL (Purdue University)-
  • Owl.english.purdue.edu

Evaluating Your Sources

  • When evaluating your sources, ask:
  • Is the source reliable?
  • Is the source appropriate for your topic?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic? (Sometimes it is necessary to research your authors to ensure their expertise!)
  • Is the information fair or biased?

URL Extensions- Reliable?

  • .com (a business): Not always reliable--- find out more before citing
  • .edu (educational organization)– Reliable
  • .gov (government agency)- Reliable
  • .net (a business)- Not always reliable--- find out more before citing
  • .org (a nonprofit)- Not always reliable--- find out more before citing

Plagiarism

  • Plagiarism, or copying text without giving proper credit to the author, is an academic crime. Avoid plagiarizing by keeping careful notes of the authors of your sources.

The Bibliography and Works Cited

  • A bibliography is a list, alphabetized by author, of all of the outside sources you consult.
  • A Works Cited list is a list, alphabetized by author, of all of the outside sources you actually use in your essay.
  • Most professors require a Works Cited list at the end of the essay.
  • Keep the list on note cards or on your computer so that it is ready to reproduce when the essay is done.

Information for Sources: Books

  • Author name
  • Title/subtitle
  • Year of publication
  • Publisher
  • Location of publisher

Information for Sources: Articles

  • Author name
  • Title and page numbers
  • Title of magazine/journal/newspaper
  • Year, month, day of publication (2008 Aug. 12)

Information for Sources: Web Sites

  • Author name
  • Title of site
  • Date of publication
  • Name of sponsoring organization
  • Date you accesses the site
  • URL (address) in angle brackets:

CITING SOURCES

  • We cite outside sources in an essay to support a point we have already made. In other words, an indirect or a direct quotation will serve as evidence for your main idea.

INDIRECT QUOTATIONS: SUMMARIZING

  • When quoting a source indirectly, you might summarize, in general, the main idea of the source in your own words. DO NOT use the source’s words. Introduce the outside source, and include the page number (in parentheses) on which it appears.
  • EXAMPLE:
  • In her article in English Journal titled “Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Teach Students about Plagiarism,” Melissa A. Vosen describes a lesson plan to teach students how to avoid plagiarism (43). This learning unit employs Bloom’s Taxonomy to teach students to recognize plagiarism and evaluate their research sources.

IN-TEXT CITATIONS

  • The first time you quote or paraphrase from an author, you must introduce the citation by naming the author and the article/book/essay. If you cite this author and source again, you need only use the author’s last name, and put the page number again:
  • EX: Vosen goes on to explain that educators should teach students why plagiarism is inappropriate, not merely order them not to plagiarize (43).

INDIRECT QUOTATIONS: PARAPHRASING

  • When you “paraphrase,” you restate the source’s ideas in your own words. A paraphrase will have more details than a summary.
  • EXAMPLE:
  • Melissa A. Vosen laments how far some students will go in plagiarizing, in her article “Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Teach Students about Plagiarism,” in English Journal. Vosen recalls a student who, in writing a memoir, obviously stole material from an outside source. The student described the joys of watching her teenaged daughter dance on a balance beam; unfortunately, the memoirist herself was only eighteen and would have had to have given birth at age six if the memoir was true (43).

DIRECT QUOTATIONS

  • If a source’s words offer strong support for your thesis, you should quote directly. Use the source’s EXACT WORDS--- change nothing!--- and use quotation marks (“ ”).
  • EXAMPLE:
  • Students obviously must be taught, not merely told, to avoid plagiarism. According to veteran teacher Maria A. Vosen, “I now realize that simply telling the students each time I introduce a writing assignment that they are not to plagiarize is not enough” (43).

DOCUMENTING SOURCES

  • http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/06/
  • Adapted from Real Writing by Susan Anker


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