Research Strategies

Start here
  1.  Understand the assignment (read the syllabus or speak with the instructor)
           What type of paper? ...argumentative essay?
           What type of resources can be used?  scholarly articles?  books?  web sites?  interviews?  films?
           Does the topic need to be approved by the instructor?
           Which style manual must be used?  This will help you collect citation information while you research.
           What are the deadlines for draft and final versions?
           How should the assignment be submitted?  e-mail?  paper?  Moodle?   MyNPC?
  2.  Find a topic
  3.  Narrow and define the topic.
  4.  Create a thesis statement.
Choose the best resources
  1.  Library Catalog - for in-depth printed material, online documents, electronic books, audio and visual
  2.  Journal articles (use Library Databases) - for timely and historical scholarly articles (varies - 5-50 pages)
               popular versus scholarly
               databases (PDF)
               free online journals access from the Free Databases web page
  3.  Use primary or secondary resources?
  4.  Internet versus database searches
  5.  Internet sites - how to get the best results quickly.
              Comparing search engines.   Use Google?  Yahoo? Academic Info?  Bing?  Google Scholar?
              What URL extensions tell you (.doc).
              Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask.
Select search terms & methods
(to use in Library Catalog, Databases, Internet searches)
  1.  Keyword versus controlled vocabulary results.
  2.  Finding the correct controlled vocabulary (PDF) in your resource.
  3.  Use Boolean operators (PDF) to help narrow search results.
  4.  Other search tricks.
           Search Tips
           Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier

Take notes
  1. Create an outline of the points to make in your paper.
  2. Each time you find something interesting, place the information on note cards.; Clearly mark the source of all the facts, quotes, ideas that you want to use so you can properly cite the resource as required by the specific style manual you are using. Our Examples of Citing Sources web page gives you an idea of the information you will need.
Format your paper
  1. Be sure your know which style is required - APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, CBE for Sciences.
  2. Each NPC library has a Term Paper Assistance section with these style manuals.
  3. The Writing & Citation Assistance web page shows exactly how to use MS Word to create the format.
Write your paper
  1. Be aware of any copyright restrictions.
  2. Cite any material that you used.
  3. The Writing & Citation Assistance web page has links to Writing and Grammar Guides as well as a link to the VAIL tutorial so you can avoid plagiarism.
Proof your paper
  1. Use Grammar & Spell checker in MS Word or whichever software you are using.
  2. Read the paper out loud to see if it makes sense.
  3. Have a friend read it. Does it make sense? Did you prove your point? Did you avoid plagiarism? Is the format in accordance with the required style manual?
  4. Ask staff at the NPC Writing Center if they can assist with proof reading.
Store your paper
  1.    While writing, save your work about every 30 minutes so you don't "lose" it by mis-stroke or power outage.
  2.    Use your personal storage device. OR
  3.    Email the document to yourself. OR
  4.    Use Google Docs (PDF).

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All Area Code (928)

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