The outcome of any
serious research can only be
to make two questions grow
where only one grew before.
1857 - 1929
3. Writing an essay: research
Develop your time line
Allow for editing, revision and unexpected developments
This is continuous to prevent losing ideas and inspirations
Keep a convenient place to
organize phrases, vocabulary,
events, etc. for later use
Research phase; information gathering and
Do not copy research word-for-word unless
using quotes to illustrate ideas.
The goal is to
transform source material into your ideas and
organization while adequately representing the authors
in a neutral manner.
Keep a good record of source
material for citations and bibliography.
with concept mapping, outlining, even brainstorming
Determine how you will build the scenes of your argument,
narrative, story, etc.
See our definitions of
terms in our Guides.
Research phase; information gathering and recording:
Document all interviews, readings, experiments, data, websites, reports,
People: instructor, teaching assistant, research librarian, tutor,
subject matter experts, professionals
- Develop research
strategies and a list of resources
- Narrow your topic and its
Pull out key words and categories
Develop a list of key words--50 or so--that form the
foundation of both your research and writing. Build the list
from general sources and overviews
- Bring your topic and
to a local research librarian, teacher, support
professional on resources available
Text books (!), reference works, web sites, journals,
diaries, professional reports
- International conventions of copyright govern the use
reproduction of all material: all information should be
c.f. our guide on citing websites for models
What are some resources?
- Search engines
Search Engine Colossus with links to search engines from 148
- Directories and portals on the Internet that
categorize/organize information and links
Open Directory Project
- Web sites devoted to particular topics, including
text, graphics, movies, music files.
- Government documents, forms, laws, policies, etc.
U.S. Government Printing Office disseminates official
information from all three branches of the United States Federal
- Services and information by
non-profit organizations and by for-profit businesses
- LISTSERVs or discussion groups
L-Soft "the official catalog of LISTSERV®
- Resources at your local (public) library
These may require membership or registration
- Newspaper, journal, magazine databases
Often restricted to subscribers, require registration, or can be
fee-based for access
- Open Artifician Intellegence (AI) Apps.
Such as ChatGPT Plus, BARD, etc. Use these to idenfity keywords and concepts for further research.
Using an Internet search engine:
Find the best combination of key words to locate information you
Enter these in the search engine
- Refer to known, recommended, expert, or reviewed web
- Review the number of options returned.
If there are too many web sites, add more keywords.
If there are too few options, narrow/delete some keywords,
or substitute other key words
- Review the first pages returned:
If these are not helpful, review your key words for a better
- Use advanced search options in search engines:
Search options include
- Key word combinations, including Boolean strings
- Locations where key words are found
For example: in the title, 1st paragraphs, coded metadata
- Languages to search in
- Sites containing media files (images, videos, MP3/music,
ActiveX, JAVA, etc.)
- Dates web sites were created or updated
- Research using several search engines
Each search engine has a different database of web sites it
Some "Meta-Search" engines actually search other search engines!
If one search engine returns few web sites, another may
- Evaluate the content of the web sites you've found:
c.f. the Study Guide
Evaluating web site content
Beware referencing blogs as they are basically
opinions and not "fact"
- Track your search:
List resources you checked; the date your checked them
Identify the resource, especially its location and the date you
c.f. index card system
- When printing, set your options to print the
Title of the page | the Web address | the date printed
Seven stages of writing assignments: