MODULE 2: The Research Process:
Section 4 of 6, OVERVIEW, page 1 of 1.

OVERVIEW

Have a researching plan ... or at least a pretty good idea what is involved

The gathering of information may not be so linear a process as is the process of writing, but it is something that you need to plan for. Make time for it and have a method for doing it.

Getting interactive—seeing and doing (rather than just reading) is how this tutorial will show you how to obtain the information you need. The next few modules of this tutorial will show you how to use the resources of the Troy University Libraries to access information sources. You will see, step-by-step, how to use the Library Catalog and databases to access books, articles, music, images, and more. Along the way you will be introduced to research techniques and terminology, and see, first hand, how to document information sources.

But (there's always a but), before we get there, some preliminary advice is offered.

THIS IS VITAL: Start your research early to ensure that information is available for your project. Sometimes you need to narrow, broaden, modify, or change your topic (with instructor approval, of course).

Unless you are just locating one piece of information—e.g., a specific fact or piece of literature—the gathering of information is a process.

Understand the types of information you will require.

Consider the terms involved (i.e., the words and concepts associated with your topic). Write them down.

Know where to look.

Save and record.

Save, save, save. If the information is in an electronic format and it is practical to keep your own copy, then do so. Save print copies of articles and other materials that do not need to be returned to the library. Save a photocopy of the title page of books or similar documents that you cannot keep. The title page is not the cover of the book, it is usually three pages in. The title page should include information such as the full book title and subtitle; the names of the authors, editors, or translators; the publisher and place of publication. Note that the copyright page, where the publication date is provided, is usually the page that follows the title page.

Tip: Although it may seem unnecessary to hang onto your research material forever, the real world advice is to do just that. Save it after you receive your grade on the assignment—save it after you receive your term grade—and save it at least until (or even after), you have your diploma in hand.

Record, record, record. Whether you use cards, paper, or a computer, it is vital to keep one hundred percent accurate records of your information sources. As you will soon see, every time you use an outside information source in writing your paper, you will need to document it. At some point in the writing process, you will need to write down all sorts of information about the source.

  • The complete title and subtitle.
  • All authors, editors, and translators.
  • For books: The publisher, place of publication, and publication date.
  • For articles: The name of magazine, journal, newspaper, etc., in which the article was contained. The page numbers on which the article appeared. Any numbering associated with the publication, e.g., volume and number.
  • For Internet sites, the complete Web address, the date of access, and the name of any organization affiliated with the site (one that might be considered the publisher).
  • For material (books, articles, etc.) from library databases, record the name of the database.
  • And more...

There are dozens of types of information sources, e.g., musical compositions, personal interviews, works of art, etc. Consult the appropriate style manual (e.g., MLA, APA, Turabian), in order to know what information to record for each source you use.

Read the information you have gathered and make notes.

END OF SECTION: OVERVIEW, Have a researching plan


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