This is the "Research Strategy" page of the "ENGL 110" guide.
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ENGL 110   Tags: engl 110, english 110  

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Research Strategy Print Page

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

Keeping a Research Journal

Research Journal

Research Journal Resources:


Research Question Resources


Boolean Logic!

Boolean Operators

Boolean Tutorial
via Colorado State University Libraries


Notetaking & Note Organization

Note Card Example

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


The Writing Process

Writing Process Chart

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!

Buffalo Libraries' Assignment Calculator
This is a really neat tool that calculates an approximate calendar for your research paper writing tasks. Simply provide the date you will begin the assignment and the date it is due, and the tool creates a great schedule for your itinerary.


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.
  • Encyclopedias.
    * 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.

Search Tips   <<< OR click the icon to link to Search Tips here!

**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:

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 5: Find books on your topic

**Use the Books tab in this guide to access the catalogs for the Addelestone Library and for other libraries.**


Step 6: Find articles on your topic

**Use the Articles tab in this guide to access the article databases.  Use the Search Help tab for tips on conducting your search.**


Step 7: Find web sites on your topic

**Use the Evaluation tab in this guide for assistance in finding accurate and reliable web sites.**


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:
Reference Department
Dominican University
Collections, Reference, Instruction & Outreach (CRIO)
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA


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