College Research Skills

College Research Skills
Presented by the TJC Writing Lab
What is research?
• organized study: methodical investigation into a
subject in order to discover facts, to establish or revise a
theory, or to develop a plan of action based on the facts
• What is already known about my topic?
• What needs to be understood?
• How can I add to this ongoing conversation?
When will I do research?
Argument papers
History essays
Scientific studies
Literary Analysis essays
Psychology papers
Studies in Education
Nursing/Medical field studies
Any time you look something up!
What is good research?
Finding appropriate and trusted sources
Understanding how library databases work
Good reading comprehension
Ability to summarize others’ points
Deciding what ideas you agree/disagree with
Composing an original thesis
Paraphrasing/quoting skills
Being open to learning as you go
Sources- What is a “good” source?
• Published articles in scholarly journals
• Published books/dissertations
• Newspapers/Magazines
• Interviews
• Class lectures/notes
• Some websites (be careful)
Reliable Source
Unreliable Source
• A book published by a major
publishing house. (William
Shakespeare’s Sonnets, edited
by Harold Bloom)
• An article published in a major
scholarly journal or magazine
(College English, Explicator).
• Government Websites
• Encyclopedia/Dictionary sites
• Educational/University
• A self-published (vanity press)
• Personal Blogs
• Any source that does not cite
its quotations, or have an
Evaluating Web Sources
• TJC Library Database
Use the Library Database to access articles
on any subject– literature, history,
psychology, nursing, sciences,
education, and on and on…..
TJC Library Database
TJC Policy on Plagiarism
From the TJC Student Handbook
C. Misconduct
Any student found to have committed misconduct while
classified as a student is subject to
disciplinary sanctions, conditions, and/or restrictions.
Misconduct or prohibited
behavior includes, but is not limited to:
Academic Dishonesty
a. Cheating.
b. Plagiarism.
c. Collusion.
What constitutes plagiarism?
• Buying a paper online
• A friend or a relative writing your paper
• Copying and pasting information from websites
into your paper without citing them afterwards
• Copying quotes from books or articles without
acknowledging the original author
• Using a roommate's old paper
• Paraphrasing or quoting without citation
UCLA website on plagiarism
Consequences of Plagiarizing
Can differ from instructor to instructor
Failing the essay assignment
Failing the course
Expulsion from college
Drawn and quartered (just kidding)
Eliminating Plagiarism
• Summarize the main ideas of your sources.
• If the information is common knowledge, you do
not need to cite it (dates, major events, well
known facts).
• If you have used someone’s original idea about
the topic, cite it.
• Practice paraphrasing, but still cite what you
have paraphrased.
• If you are in doubt, cite it!
What is common knowledge?
• The Civil war lasted from 1861-1865.
• John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the
United States.
• William Blake is a famous Romantic poet.
• Paradise Lost was written by John Milton.
• The terrorist attacks on U.S. soil known as 9/11
were more than just the attacks on the Twin
What is an original idea?
"What secessionists set out to build was something entirely
new in the history of nations: a modern proslavery and antidemocratic
state, dedicated to the proposition that all men were not created
equal” (McCurry 24).
“[William Blake] had great powers of argument, and on general
subjects was a very patient and good-tempered disputant…”
(Southam 34).
“Kennedy played both defense and offense in convincing voters that a
Catholic president would not be a tool of the Vatican” (Balmer 279).
Summarizing Skills
• First, skim the article to be sure it pertains to
your topic.
• If it does, read the whole article carefully,
underlining key ideas (places where the author
makes his/her opinion known).
• Try to locate a thesis (main idea) sentence or
group of sentences.
• Once you feel that you have a good idea of the
author’s argument, put the article away and
write those ideas down in your own words.
Sample Summary
Practice Summarizing:
It is important to establish that Homer Barron was
probably not intended to be perceived as gay for two
reasons. First, believing Barron to be homosexual distracts
students from one of the story’s important ideas: that in
turning Emily Grierson into a monument, the town has
done much to turn her into a murderer and a necrophile.
Indeed, they would rather have her be a murderer than
lose her status as a lady. The rigid roles formed by gender
and social class have driven Emily mad. Second, this
misconception causes students to miss the fact that in
other times many Americans thought very differently
about gender, race, class, and sexual behavior than the
majority of young Americans do now.
“Faulkner’s Gay Homer Once More” by Judith Ceasar (p.197)
Paraphrasing Skills
 Paraphrase is longer than summary
 Looks at more specific ideas (as opposed
to the main idea of a passage or article)
 Does not need quotation marks
 Must be cited just as a quote would
 Must be in your own words
Sample Paraphrase
Practice Paraphrasing
Students frequently overuse direct quotation in
taking notes, and as a result they overuse
quotations in the final [research] paper.
Probably only about 10% of your final
manuscript should appear as directly quoted
matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the
amount of exact transcribing of source materials
while taking notes.
Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.
Quotation Skills
• Be sparing with quotations; you should only use
them if it’s is a very important point that cannot
be made any other way.
• You must quote your source author word for
word (even if a word is misspelled!)
• Use quotation marks at the beginning and the
end of the quote.
• Cite the author and page number (MLA)
Practice Quoting
Although book reading is declining in favor of
digital entertainment, the detriment to society
may not be as grave as some may think. For
example, most people in Shakespeare's time,
about a century after Gutenberg, saw his plays
on stage, not in a book. Is that so different from
watching film versions of a book on a laptop or
viewing a book on a hand-held video today?
“The Digital Revolution has Reduced Reading
Comprehension” by W.E. Jacobs (no page)
Research Terminology
Primary and Secondary Sources
• In literature field: primary sources are stories,
poems, or works of non-fiction on which you
develop an original idea. In sciences: primary
sources include case studies and published
• Secondary sources are any sources you seek
outside your primary source (analysis of fiction
or poetry, later studies and theories).
Research Terminology
• In-text Citation: After quoting, paraphrasing, or
summarizing, you must list the author’s name
and page #.
• Works Cited or Bibliography Page: A reference
sheet at the end of your paper. It gives your
reader ALL the info. s/he needs to find your
source in its entirety.
Sample in-text citation (MLA)
Human beings have been described by Kenneth Burke
as "symbol-using animals" (3).
Human beings have been described as "symbol-using
animals" (Burke 3).
Research Terminology
• “Modern Language Association” – used in
• Calls for a certain formatting (shown on next
• In text citation includes author’s last name and
page number (Jackson 7).
• If no author is available, list the title of the
article: (“Where Have all The Cowboys Gone?”
• Calls for a Works Cited page as last page of the
Research Terminology
• “American Psychological Association” is used in
social science fields.
• In text citation includes dates, and often more
than one name.
• Reference sheet is provided at the end of the
APA Powerpoint