Why use a research strategy?
Because a research strategy...
- Provides a strategic plan for your research effort
- Keeps you on-topic and focused on finding answers to your research question
- Helps you build your knowledge with solid background information first before moving into the more detailed, issue-specific literature
- Reminds you to cite your sources correctly
- Helps you to critically evaluate your sources
Research Question Resources
- "Create Research Questions": Worksheets from Sonoma State University Library
These worksheets will guide you through the process of structuring research questions, and provide a criteria for their examination, which can help you select a research question to focus upon.
How to Write a Research Question
From the Writing Center at George Mason University. This article explains WHAT a research question is, WHY research questions are important to your research, and HOW to develop research questions.
Notetaking & Note Organization
Above: An exemplary notecard from the JWU Denver Campus Library's Tips for Notetaking. To view this resource, click the link below:
Thesis Statement Resources
- Purdue Owl: Creating a Thesis Statement
Articles and information on creating an effective thesis for your academic paper.
- Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric: Developing Your Thesis
A very useful resource from the Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric's Materials for First-Year Writers.
- Writer's Web: Thesis Statement Excercises
Choose the best revision for each. These exercises help students and writers develop a better understanding of the thesis statement.
The Writing Process
Also known as invention, the primary goal of prewriting is to get thoughts down on paper. Examples may include freewriting, brainstorming, and concept-mapping.
Drafting, forming main ideas, and supporting them with research sources & information that correspond with your viewpoint/argument. This phase in the writing process is likely more organized than the prewriting phase; however, it is not necessarily a finalized version of your writing's structure or content.
This phase of the writing process includes rereading and analyzing your work in terms of writing content, sentence structure, mechanics, transitioning, and making certain that ideas are connected throughout the paper. It also inclues proofreading and editing, checking for grammatical errors, and adding finishing touches, such as formatting details(for example: pagination, citation styles).
Stay on Schedule with the Assignment Calculator!
The Eleven Steps of the Research Strategy
Listed below are the 11 steps of the research strategy. To the left of the steps you will find supplementary information and links to additional resources.
Step 1: Choose a research topic
The following can help:
- Readings for your class and your notes on these readings.
- Your in- and out-of-class writing, where you might touch on ideas or questions you want to explore further.
* General ones such as Encyclopedia Britannica Online, OR
* Subject-specific ones such as Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
- Resources containing information on current social issues and hot topics, such as CQ Researcher Online or Opposing Viewpoints.
- A research journal, where you write and reflect on your research questions and interests—and how these questions and interests possibly change in the course of your research.
** See the box to the left with the purple composition book for more information about keeping a research journal.**
Step 2: Turn your research topic into a question
Example- Turning your research into a question:
Topic - C of C’s Convocation Ceremony
Questions - When did it start? Why? Who initiated it? How has the ceremony changed over time? How does it compare to convocation ceremonies at other colleges and universities? What impression does it give students of college and college life? How does this picture compare to that incoming students (both locally and nationally) have of college?
** View the box to the left labeled "Research Question Resources" for more information on this topic.**
Step 3: Identify keywords, and think of synonyms and related concepts.
When necessary, structure your search using boolean connectors AND, OR, & NOT.
Use the Search Tips link from the library catalog (shown below) for tips on using your keywords, boolean connectors, etc. to search for articles and books.
**View the box to the left titled "Boolean Logic!" for more on this topic.**
Step 4: Find an overview and background information on your topic
The following can help:
- Reference Universe A comprehensive index to over 4,500 titles from 395 publishers provides access to widely held print and electronic reference works, including subject encyclopedias and monographs.
- Oxford Reference Online: database of hundreds of encyclopedias and dictionaries from one of the most respected academic publishers.
- Gale Virtual Reference Library
- Literature Resource Center
- Encyclopedia Britannica Online
- Numerous print subject encyclopedias: most are located in the reference collection on the first floor of the library.
- Wikipedia: can also be a useful resource if used judiciously and double checked against other sources.
Be sure to use the bibliography at the end of encyclopedia entries. This is a good, easy way to find additional information on your topic.
**Also be sure to use the Find Background Information tab in this guide to access more resources related to this topic.**
Step 8: Evaluate what you have found
- Use the criteria listed on your assignment and resources listed in the Evaluation tab in this guide for assistance on evaluating sources.
- In your notes or research journal, reflect on how you plan to use the sources you’ve found. For example, you might use a source to support a point you wish to make, but you might also use a source to provide background information, give an overview of the discussion surrounding the topic, or establish a counterpoint you wish to refute.
Step 9: Keep track of what information came from which source
When taking notes, make sure to write down a full citation for each source. This makes writing and citing much easier, and helps you avoid plagiarism.
**View the box to the left with the graphic of an index card to learn more about Notetaking and Note Organization.**
Step 10: Draw from your notes to narrow your questions and draft your paper
- In the process of taking notes or keeping a research journal, you may come up with a working thesis that you can begin to develop in your paper.
- Or, if you’re not yet sure of your thesis, you might draw from your notes and begin your draft by writing what others have said about your topic, which can help you figure out where you stand in this conversation.
**Even though this is listed as Step 10, don’t delay writing your draft until you’ve located all your sources. Whether you know it or not, you’re likely starting to write your draft as you take notes or keep a journal. And there are always going to be more sources out there for you to locate. So, start drawing from your notes to draft your paper as you continue to conduct research.**
*View the box to the left labeled "Thesis Statement Resources" for more information on thesis statements.**
**Also view the the box to the left featuring the Writing Process diagram for more about writing a research paper.**
Step 11: Remember that you will likely need to do more research as you revise your paper
When writing the draft of your paper, you might find that your original thesis or research questions change. Your instructor and other readers may make comments or ask questions that prompt you to locate additional sources. Your research isn’t done until you hand in the final draft of your paper (and it may not even be done then!), so leave yourself time to continue your research as you draft and revise your paper.
**View the box to the left labeled "Stay on Schedule with the Assignment Calculator!" for more on time management for your research assignments.**
This list was adapted with permission from:
Collections, Reference, Instruction & Outreach (CRIO)
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA