Tips on Writing a Research Paper (Sinclair) By Winnie Tseng, Reference Librarian Searching for information in preparation of a research paper can be a time-consuming process. You can avoid much frustration by starting early and following a search strategy. The Learning Resources Center has many resources on how to do research and how to write a research paper. Go the Library's web site, click on "Search the Sinclair Library Catalog," and do a subject search by typing in "report writing." There are many books on this topic. Here are some suggestions that can help you write your paper: 1. Choosing a topic. 2. Narrowing the topic. 3. Collecting information. 4. Evaluating resources 5. Taking notes. 6. Writing the paper Choosing a Topic Before you get started, you must understand your assignment and your professor’s guidelines and suggestions – the length and the nature of the paper. Ask questions before you start. It is important to pick a topic that "fits" your assignment, that interests you and about which you can find sufficient information. Do your own brainstorming. Use the reference collection in the Library. Do some preliminary research on the Sinclair Library Catalog , the many subject databases, and the Internet to see how much and/or what kinds of information are available. If you need to identify a social or controversial issue, the Library has several series of books, namely the Opposing Viewpoints Series (online version available), CQ Researcher, and more, that focus on social issues. They are located in the Reference Collection of the Library. You can also look into subject encyclopedias and periodicals in your field to find an interesting topic. Narrow your topic when there is too much information on your potential topic. You may choose to write about one or two aspects of the topic, or you can further limit your topic by age, location, or time period. You can also focus and examine the topic from different angles. Collecting Information There are many tools and strategies for collecting information. The Learning Resources Center provides many resources on its web site which is accessible on any on-campus-networked computers or off-campus computers that have an Internet connection. Take good notes on information you need for your research paper. Remember to write down the bibliographic data of the document, such as author, title, and full publication information. If it is a web site, write down the URL or even better, print the first page of the web document. This will later help you formulate your paper’s works-cited list or your bibliography. Books -- Use the Sinclair Library Catalog to search the Library's collection online by author, title, subject and word. If you do not find what you need, you can connect to the OhioLINK Central Catalog and search over seventy library collections. You can request the item to be delivered to the Sinclair Library. There are many electronic books in the the Library's catalog. Numerous electronic books can be accessed on Netlibrary, Safari Tech Book Online, and many others by clicking "Electronic Books" on the Library's web site. Periodicals & Newspapers Billions of periodical and newspaper articles in a variety of subject databases can be searched. Many databases provide full-text articles online and they are accessible off-campus through remote authentication. You may start with some popular databases: Academic Search Preimer (general) Business Source Premier (business) Education Abstracts (education) CINHAL (allied health) SIRS Researcher (social issues) Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center (social issues) For newspaper articles, try NewsBank Newsfile collection, Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, or Dayton Daily News. World Web Wide Further searching the World Wide Web can be done using a number of search engines like alltheweb.com, Google, Yahoo, etc. However, Internet searching can be overwhelming. Use the Help option in each search engine to learn how to search effectively. Other Resources in the Library There are many other resources in the Library such as Art and Architecture Digital Media, AccNet/AP Multimedia Archive and Digital Media Collection. Evaluating Resources As you research your chosen topic, evaluate the information you find, especially that found on the World Wide Web. Not everything on the web is reliable. You must assess its validity and accuracy. Ask yourself these questions: Where does this document come from? Who is the author, his or her qualifications and expertise in the field? When was this information published or posted? How reputable is the publisher or the sponsoring corporation? Is the document impartial or biased? For better understanding, use these two web sites: Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources, University of Southern Maine and Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources, UCLA College Library. Writing the Paper Use your outline as a guide and write the first draft from the notes you have collected. Consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (LRC Call Number 808.02 M689m) on punctuation, mechanics of writing, and documentation of sources. The Library has a web page on Style Guide for MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) that you may like to consult. If you need help, don't hesitate to Chat with a Librarian. For more information on how to write a research paper, use the following sites for futher assistance: Writing a Research Paper by Sarah Hamid, OWL Online Writing Lab, Purdue University. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/hypertext/ResearchW/. Aguide of Writing Research Papers based on Modern Language Association (MLA), Documentation prepared by the Humanities Department, Capital Community College. http://webster.commnet.edu/mla/index.shtml.
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