How to Write a Research Paper Day One How to Write a Research Paper Day One • Get-to-know you • What is it? – Different types of papers • Choosing a topic – Brainstorming – Too broad/narrow • Initial research – Credible sources – Varied sources Get-to-Know You Mrs. Ward 10th grade English Brewbaker Technology Magnet High Reading, guitar playing • • • • • What is your name? What grade? Which school? What are some of your hobbies? What experience do you have with research papers? What Is a Research Paper? • A research report that uses information gathered from various sources • “…the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition” (OWL at Perdue) • Not a summary of information from primary and secondary sources Types of Research Papers • Argumentative: takes a stance or makes a claim that will be supported; meant to be persuasive • Analytical: explores a question on which the writer may not have a specific claim; meant to be expository Choosing a Topic • Check with your teacher – Topic list? – Length? • Find your interest • Brainstorm – List – Cluster – Discuss with others Brainstorming Too Broad or Too Narrow Too broad: The Space Race in the Twentieth Century Not too broad: The Apollo 11 Space Mission Too narrow: Corvette Mag Wheels Not too narrow: The Two Best-Rated Sports Cars of the Year Narrowing Down Narrowing Down Narrowing Down Narrowing Down Homelessness • Topically o Homeless Senior Citizens o Homeless Shelters o Education for the Homeless o Food for the Homeless Narrowing Down Homelessness • Chronologically o Homelessness During the Great Depression o Homelessness Before and After the Reagan Administration • Geographically o Homelessness in New York City o Homelessness in Florida o Homelessness in Mexico Narrowing Down Homelessness • Combinations of Techniques o Education for Homeless Children in New York City o Homelessness in Florida Before and After the Reagan Administration I Have My Topic… Now What? Initial Research •Encyclopedia articles •Internet articles •Non-fiction book •Scholarly news articles •Film documentaries Credible Sources • Not all information is trustworthy, particularly on the Internet! C • Check all sources for credibility: A R R D S S C A R R D S S Credibility (Authority) •Who is the author? •What are his/her credentials? Education? Experience? Affiliation? •Does he/she offer first-hand credibility? •Who actually published this page? •Is this a personal page, or is it an endorsed part of a site belonging to a major institution? (Clues pointing to a personal page: ~ tilde, %, users, members) •Is the page hosted by a free server like AOL Members, Tripod, or Geocities? C Credibility (Authority) A I can’t find author information! R R Look for: D •About Us, Who Am I, FAQs, For More, Company Information, Profiles, Our Staff, Home S S •E-mail address for the author to ask for more information C A Credibility (Authority) What do others think? Do a link check: R R D S S •In Google or AltaVista type link:site address •Your results will show which other sites have chosen to link the page. If several respectable institutions are linked to the site, that provides a clue about the site’s credibility. •Does the site appear in major subject directories like Librarian’s Index to the Internet (lii.org)? C A R R Credibility (Authority) Truncate the URL Delete characters in the address line up to the next slash mark to see if a main page offers more information about who is responsible for publishing the page you are interested in. D http://www.statecollege.edu/history/middleages/chaucer/s mith/htm S http://www.statecollege.edu/history/middleages/chaucer S http://www.statecollege.edu/history/middleages http://www.statecollege.edu/history http://www.statecollege.edu C Credibility (Authority) A If you have an author’s name but no further information about credentials, R •Search the name in quotation marks in a search engine or online database. R •On the Web, include words like profile, resume, or C.V. (curriculum vitae—an academic resume) to narrow your name search D S S •Also include the name of a college or association you can connect with the person •Ask your teacher/librarian for help C Accuracy A •Can facts, statistics, or other information be verified through other sources? R R •Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate? Is the information consistent with information you learned from other sources? D •Is the information second hand? Has it been altered? S •Do there appear to be errors on the page (spelling, grammar, facts)? S C Accuracy A Practice checking for accuracy with a few of these sites: R California’s Velcro Crop Under Challenge http://home.inreach.com/kumbacj/velcro.html R D The Jackalope Conspiracy http://www.sudftw.com/jackcon.htm S Republic of Cascadia: Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs http://zapatopi.net/bsa.html S Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division http://www.dhmo.org Federal Vampire & Zombie Agency http://www.fvza.org C Reliability A •Does the source present a particular view or bias? R •Is the page affiliated with an organization that has a particular social or political agenda? R D S S •Is the page selling a product? •Can you find other material to offer balance so that you can see the bigger picture? •Was the information found in a paid placement or sponsored result from the search engine? Information is seldom neutral. Sometimes a bias is useful for persuasive essays or debates. Recognizing bias is important! C A R R D S S Reliability Consider bias: International Society for Animal Rights http://www.isaronline.org/index.html The American Physiological Society http://www.theaps.org/pa/humane/pa_overview. htm C Relevance A •Does this information directly support my hypothesis/thesis or help to answer my question? R •Can I eliminate or ignore it because it simply doesn’t help me? R D S S C A Date •When was this information created? •When was it last revised? R R D S S •Are these dates meaningful in terms of your information needs? •Has the author of the page stopped maintaining it? •Be suspicious of undated material! C Date A For example, RMS Titanic: R •sank April 4, 1912 R •survivors arrived in NYS April 11, 1912 •ship found September 1, 1985 D S S C Sources Behind the Text A •Did the author bother to document his/her sources? R •Were those references reliable, popular, scholarly, reputable? R D S S •Are those sources real? Have you heard of or been able to verify them? •Is the material reproduced (accurately) from another publication? •What kinds of link did the author choose? •Are the hyperlinks reliable and valuable? C A R Scope (Purpose) •Does this source address my hopthesis/thesis/question in a comprehensive or peripheral way? •Is it a scholarly or popular treatment? R •Is it material I can read and understand? D •Is it too simple? Too challenging? S S •Who is the intended audience? •Why was this page created? To inform or explain? To persuade? To sell? What Can You Learn from a URL? • You can use the end (or suffix) of a domain name to help you judge the validity of the information and the potential bias of a website. • This strategy is only a guideline. People can easily purchase domains that do not reflect their actual purpose. URL Clues .com = commercial sites (vary in their credibility) .gov = U.S. government site .org = organization, often non-profit (some have strong bias and agendas) .edu = school or university site (Is it K-12? By a student? By a scholar?) .store = retail business .int – international institution .ac = educational institution .mil = U. S. military site URL Clues .net = networked service provider, Internet administrative site .museum = museum .name = individual Internet user .biz = a business .pro = professional’s site ~ = personal site URL Clues http://personal.statecollege.edu/~ejv114/ http://www.fi.edu/wright/index.html http://www.house.gov/house/Legproc.html http://aolmembers.com/joyciev328/civalwarsong Why Does Source Credibility Matter? Imagine making other choices in the future: •Which car should I buy? •Which doctor should I choose? •Should my child have this surgery? •Should I take this medication? Be sure all information you choose is credible, reliable, current, balanced, relevant, and accurate! Source Variety Remember, use varied sources, not just the Internet • • • • • • • • Books Magazines Newspapers Encyclopedias Interviews Documentary films Textbooks Medical journals Bibliography Everhart, Nancy. How to Write a Term Paper. Second ed. Cornstock, Inc., 1987. Markman, Ph.D., Roberta H., Peter T. Markman, and Marie L. Waddell. 10 Steps in Writing the Research Paper. Sixth ed. Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2001. Mrs. Horn's Short Story Project. Montgomery: Kim Horn, 2009.