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mcgraw hill's concise guide to writing research papers

mcgraw hill's concise guide to writing research papers

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Carol Ellison is a seasoned composition instructor. She teaches on the writing faculty of Rutgers University.

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McGraw-Hills Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers by Carol Ellison (z-lib.org)

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McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers This page intentionally left blank McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Carol Ellison New York Chicago San Francisco Lisbon London Madrid Mexico City Milan New Delhi San Juan Seoul Singapore Sydney Toronto Copyright © 2010 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. ISBN: 978-0-07-162990-4 MHID: 0-07-162990-4 The material in this eBook also appears in the print version of this title: ISBN: 978-0-07-162989-8, MHID: 0-07-162989-0. All trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners. Rather than put a trademark symbol after every occurrence of a trademarked name, we use names in an editorial fashion only, and to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention of infringement of the trademark. Where such designations appear in this book, they have been printed with initial caps. McGraw-Hill eBooks are available at special quantity discounts to use as premiums and sales promotions, or for use in corporate training programs. To contact a representative please e-mail us at [email protected] This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that neither the author nor the publisher is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. —From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers. TERMS OF USE This is a copyrighted work and The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“McGraw-Hill”) and its licensors reserve all rights in and to the work. Use of this work is subject to these terms. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976 and the right to store and retrieve one copy of the work, you may not decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer, reproduce, modify, create derivative works based upon, transmit, distribute, disseminate, sell, publish or sublicense the work or any part of it without McGraw- Hill’s prior consent. You may use the work for your own noncommercial and personal use; any other use of the work is strictly prohibited. Your right to use the work may be terminated if you fail to comply with these terms. THE WORK IS PROVIDED “AS IS.” McGRAW-HILL AND ITS LICENSORS MAKE NO GUARAN- TEES OR WARRANTIES AS TO THE ACCURACY, ADEQUACY OR COMPLETENESS OF OR RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED FROM USING THE WORK, INCLUDING ANY INFORMATION THAT CAN BE ACCESSED THROUGH THE WORK VIA HYPERLINK OR OTHERWISE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICU- LAR PURPOSE. McGraw-Hill and its licensors do not warrant or guarantee that the functions contained in the work will meet your requirements or that its operation will be uninterrupted or error free. Neither McGraw-Hill nor its licensors shall be liable to you or anyone else for any inaccuracy, error or omission, regardless of cause, in the work or for any damages resulting therefrom. McGraw-Hill has no responsibility for the content of any information accessed through the work. Under no circumstances shall McGraw-Hill and/or its licensors be liable for any indirect, incidental, special, punitive, consequen- tial or similar damages that result from the use of or inability to use the work, even if any of them has been advised of the possibility of such damages. This limitation of liability shall apply to any claim or cause whatsoever whether such claim or cause arises in contract, tort or otherwise. Contents Preface ix Chapter 1: Getting Started 1 Interpreting the Assignment 2 Types of Assignments 7 Choosing a Research Topic 10 Developing a Working Thesis 14 Analyzing Your Audience 16 Writing a Proposal 17 Chapter 2: Doing Your Research 19 Searching the Internet 20 Using Library and Database Resources 25 Finding Books at the Library 26 Using Library Catalogs 30 Browsing for Information 32 Looking up Articles in Periodicals 34 Identifying Appropriate Sources 38 Identifying Reputable Online Sources 40 Identifying Reputable Print Sources 44 Reading Critically 45 v Contents Documenting Your Research 49 53 Narrowing (or Expanding) Your Search Writing Annotated Bibliographies 55 Conducting Original Research 57 Surveys 59 Interviews 64 Chapter 3: Crafting Your Outline 71 Making Lists 74 89 Making Charts 75 Creating an Outline 78 Identifying a Thesis 79 Identifying Topics and Arguments 82 Outlining a Five-Paragraph Paper 84 Expanding beyond Five Paragraphs 88 Comparing and Contrasting Ideas and Information Chapter 4: Preparing Your Draft 93 Introductions 94 Paragraphs 104 Writing Topic Sentences 108 Adding Evidence 109 Writing Transition Sentences 110 Conclusions 116 Chapter 5: Revising Your Work 121 Avoiding Plagiarism 122 Protecting Yourself against Plagiarism 123 vi Contents Choosing a Documentation Style 124 Quotations/Citations 129 Summaries/Paraphrases 133 Bibliographies/Works Cited 136 Avoiding Bias 140 Chapter 6: Polishing Your Writing 145 Vocabulary 146 Checking Your Usage 148 Avoiding the “I”Trap 152 Polishing the Prose 153 Words 158 Chapter 7: Preparing Your Submission 161 Pictures/Graphics 162 The Final Checklist 163 Chapter 8: Getting Ready for the Next Time 165 Interpreting Feedback 165 Keeping a Portfolio 166 Appendix A — The Dewey Decimal System 169 Appendix B — The Library of Congress Classification System 175 About the Author 189 vii This page intentionally left blank Preface W hat is a “perfect” research paper? For students, the perfect research paper is the one that earns an A, wins an academic competition, or earns them a scholarly award. For others tasked with writing research papers, the “perfect” paper may be one that earns them a raise or pro- motion or recognition within their company or the industry in which they work. The strategies and tips in this book are written primarily for students at the high school and university level. However, they will be helpful to anyone who is confronted with the task of writing a research paper and is looking for help. The good news here is that anyone can learn to write a research paper. You do not need to be a “born writer.” Unlike creative writing where quality is largely a function of imagina- tion, the expository writing done for research papers is based on standard formats, expectations, and stylistic guidelines that anyone can follow. Still, writing an effective research paper can be a daunting task.While a research paper does not rely heavily on the writer’s inspiration, it does require persistence, attention to detail, and a willingness to read, revise, and perfect what was written—many times if necessary. But is that so very different from any other ix Preface skill that is important in our lives? Remember falling again and again until you learned to ride a two-wheel bike, missing the ball over and over until you learned to bat, or making the most horrendous noises on the piano until you properly struck a chord? Expository writing is a lot like that. We learn by doing, and we get better with practice. Improvement depends upon the guidance we get along the way. This book is designed to deliver that. x McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers This page intentionally left blank Chapter 1 Getting Started Research papers begin with a writing assignment. It may be specific. It may be general. It may assign you a topic and point you in the direction the research should take. Or it may offer a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to pick your topic and stage your own investigation. It serves as a roadmap to what you must do. It is your first clue to what your instructor expects of you. If you have a thorough understanding of what is expected of you, you will be better able to deliver it. Tackling a research project is, in many ways, like preparing to run a race. You have no hope of finishing among the leaders if you have no idea where the finishing line is or how to get there. That may sound sophomoric but the vast majority of research projects that end in failure do so because the writer proceeded with no clear idea of what was expected and deliv- ered something off the mark. The first step you take in tackling the paper should point you in the direction of a successful finish. You need to know what is expected of you and how to prepare to deliver it. By understanding where you need to end up, you will spare your- self a lot of trial and error in getting there. 1 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers First Steps ■ Identify the expectations (due date, length, etc.). ■ Interpret the assignment. ■ Analyze the audience. ■ Choose a topic. ■ Write a working thesis. ■ Write a proposal. Interpreting the Assignment Knowing precisely what you need to produce is the first step to producing a perfect paper. Not only will it spare you the frus- tration of assembling material that may not be appropriate to the assignment, but it will assure you of a better grade. One of the first questions on an instructor’s mind is: Did this student understand the assignment? A student’s ability to deliver what the assignment requests shows the teacher or professor that the student possesses the skills to properly interpret instruc- tions and identify expectations. Research papers typically begin with an assignment that identifies your teacher’s expectations and provides the infor- mation you need to know to complete the assignment. What You Should Know before You Start ■ What is the purpose of the assignment? What does your instructor expect you to learn? ■ Is there an assigned topic? Can you choose your own? ■ What kinds of sources should you use? ■ How many sources should you use? 2 Getting Started ■ Are print and online sources equally acceptable? ■ When is the paper due? ■ How long should it be? ■ How should the paper be formatted? ■ How should bibliographic information be presented? ■ What are the qualities of a paper that gets an A, B, C, or D? You cannot produce a perfect paper if you do not know what “perfection”means to your teacher or the person who will be reading and evaluating it. More important than the basic expectations are those that actually tell you what to do. Assign- ments are often worded very deliberately to test how well stu- dents read, interpret, and respond to the expectations that are outlined. Your instructor may want to know how well you can summarize new ideas and complex material, for instance, or whether you can present a logical argument to support an opinion or advocate an idea. Another assignment might spell out how you should conduct your research by specifying the types of sources you should consult. Others may use words like analyze, discuss, or investigate to describe what is expected. Do not take these words lightly. They have specific meanings. Learn to recognize the learning goals in an assignment. When you receive an assignment, read it thoroughly and be prepared to ask your instructor about anything that is unclear to you. Make a list of the stated expectations. True, you already have these on the assignment sheet but writing them down will emphasize them in your mind and help you to remember them. If you receive the criteria for how your paper will be graded, examine them as closely as you do the assign- ment to determine what you must do to achieve the grade you 3 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers want. If your teacher does not provide the grading criteria, ask what they are. An example of grading criteria that we use for writing composition classes at Rutgers University Newark cam- pus appears below: Grade Criteria Grade of A: An essay that merits an A demonstrates a generally high degree of competence and control of language. Typically, such an essay meets all of the following criteria: ■ Responds to the assignment thoroughly, thoughtfully, and with insight or originality. ■ Demonstrates strong reading comprehension of the assigned texts. ■ Is well-developed and supports analysis with effective textual evidence, reasons, examples, and details. ■ Is well-focused and well-organized, demonstrating strong control over the conventions of analytical writing. ■ Demonstrates facility with language, using effective vocabulary and sentence variety. ■ Demonstrates strong control of grammar, the rules of usage, and mechanics of standard English but may have minor errors. Grade of B: An essay that receives a B is written in a clearly competent manner and displays generally consistent control of language. Typically, such an essay meets all of the following criteria: 4 Getting Started ■ Responds to all elements of the assignment competently and thoughtfully. ■ Demonstrates an adequate understanding of the readings. ■ Is adequately developed, using appropriate textual evidences, reasons, examples, and details. ■ Is focused and effectively organized, demonstrating control of the conventions of analytical essay writing. ■ Demonstrates strong language competence and uses appropriate vocabulary and sentence variety. ■ Shows good control of grammar, the rules of usage, and mechanics of standard English, although it may have some errors and minor lapses in quality. Grade of C: An essay that earns a grade of C demonstrates some competence but is limited in one or more of the following ways: ■ Does not address all parts of the writing assignment. ■ Does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of the readings. ■ Is thinly developed, often relying on assertions with little textual evidence or few relevant reasons, examples, and details. ■ Is adequately focused and/or adequately organized, but connections between the parts could be more explicit. ■ Demonstrates limited facility with language and minimal sentence variety. ■ Demonstrates inconsistent control of grammar, usage, and the mechanics of writing. 5 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Grade of D: An essay receives a grade of D if it has one or more of the following flaws: ■ Is unclear and/or seriously limited in its response to the writing assignment. ■ Demonstrates a limited reading or misreading of the texts. ■ Is unfocused and/or disorganized, demonstrating little control of the conventions of analytical essay writing. ■ Demonstrates serious errors in the use of language, which may interfere with meaning. ■ Demonstrates serious errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics, which may interfere with meaning. Grade of F: An essay receives a grade of F when it: ■ Demonstrates little or no ability to develop an organized response to the writing assignment. ■ Contains severe writing errors that persistently obscure meaning. Make note of any specific information or ideas that the assignment asks you to discuss. It helps to raise your hand, ask any questions you may have, and take notes. Any information you receive will help you in your pursuit of the “perfect” paper. Make every effort to ensure that you understand what your instructor is requesting. That way, you know what to deliver. 6 Getting Started Types of Assignments Writing assignments are not created equal. The approach you take to receive an A in an assignment for one class will not nec- essary work well for you in another. You should expect that any writing assignment, whether it is given at the high school or col- lege level, will differ according to the class you are taking and expectations your instructor outlines for the class. Even within a class, an instructor’s expectations are likely to change from assignment to assignment. Getting a good grade is not a func- tion of “psyching out” your instructor. It is a function of under- standing the assignment and what you are being asked to do. The High School Level In high school, research papers are generally assigned to test a student’s ability to look up information and explain it ade- quately in his or her own words. Here is a list of the kinds of assignments typically given in high school and what they mean: ■ Summary: An abbreviated account of a larger article, book, or other work. Examples: Book report, movie review, or a summary of something you read in the news or saw on TV. ■ Description: A detailed account of what things look like. Descriptions that help readers “see” what you are talking about are especially useful to clarify events, conditions, or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the reader. Good descriptions make appropriate use of adjectives and adverbs, metaphors, similes, and examples to build readers’ understanding. 7 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Examples: A history report about life in another time or a geography report about the culture and industries in another country. ■ Explanation: A description that tells why certain conditions exist or certain events occur. Explanations attempt to identify the cause or causes that create an effect.They attempt to answer the question,“Why”? Examples: A science report. ■ Process: A description of conditions that must exist and actions that must be taken to produce an outcome. Examples: Instructions someone should follow to do something successfully, such as following the steps in an experiment, or directions to a destination. ■ Narrative: A story about something that happened. Narratives are often told in chronological order with a beginning, middle, and end. Examples:“What I Did on My Summer Vacation” The University Level At the university, a great deal more is expected. Assignments become more complex. Instead of simply asking you to sum- marize or describe something, the assignment typically will present you with a challenge. Often, too, the assignment is not even called an “assignment.” Instead, it is called a “writing prompt,” meaning that the purpose of the assignment is to “prompt” your thinking and elicit a thorough written response from you. Writing prompts usually call upon the writer to use a combination of the approaches learned in high school (those listed above), as well as employ other approaches and strategies 8 Getting Started to advance new ideas, opinions, and arguments about the topic under discussion. The path to producing a perfect paper begins with under- standing what those goals are and how to identify them in the assignment. Below is a list of terms that professors often use in writing prompts and what they mean: ■ Analyze relationships among facts, trends, theories, and issues. Point out their significant likes and differences and tell why they are meaningful. ■ Argue in defense of (or against) a concept, opinion, position, thesis, or point of view. Strong arguments apply logic and point out fallacies, errors, and “fuzzy” thinking. ■ Categorize or classify items, concepts, or events by sorting them in sets of predefined qualities or conditions according to their similarities. ■ Compare and contrast two or more events, ideas, or opinions by identifying their similarities and/or differences. (Look for similarities when you compare two things; look for differences when you contrast them.) ■ Define the meaning of an unfamiliar term, phrase, or concept by describing the concept behind it. ■ Discuss the implications of your research or various points of view on your topic by looking at different sides of the issue and pointing out their merits. ■ Examine a topic in minute detail by describing it as if it were under a microscope. ■ Illustrate a concept by using many significant details to describe it. 9 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers ■ Interpret a set of facts or events by explaining their significance and importance to your reader, or to other audiences with other needs or interests. ■ Give your opinion by telling what you think about the topic and provide an explanation about why you think it. ■ Reason (the verb, not the noun) by presenting the logical thought process required to support a specific conclusion. ■ Synthesize information from a variety of sources to support a single thesis, opinion, or conclusion. ■ Theorize by presenting your own hypothesis, or best guess, about why things are the way they are. Choosing a Research Topic Topics for some research papers will be assigned to you, along with very specific requirements that you must follow in com- pleting the paper. Others allow you to choose the topic you will research. Many assignments are deliberately open-ended, allowing students to pick their own topics and pursue their own research. If your assignment is open-ended, you will have lots of latitude to research a topic that interests you, based on what- ever guidelines or parameters your instructor specifies. The challenge then becomes finding a topic and devising a thesis and arguments to support it. Below is an example of an open-ended writing assignment from a freshman composition course. It is designed to determine how effectively students can identify and control a topic, con- struct their own thesis, find appropriate research to support the 10 Getting Started thesis, and use that research to present arguments their audi- ence would find convincing. Example assignment: Pick an issue that interests you and find at least three news- paper articles or editorials from different sources that express differing points of view on the issue. Produce a five-page paper, including four pages plus a Works Cited page, that analyzes the various points of view. What appears to be the best course of action, based on the merits of the arguments that the articles present? Be sure to use arguments from each of your sources as you explore the issue. Paraphrase, summarize, and quote them accurately and be sure to cite them according to MLA style. Open-ended assignments can be fun. They allow you to pursue your own interests but they can also be frustrating because they require you to make decisions that specific assignments make for you. Students often lament,“I don’t know what to write about,” or they spend a great deal of time gath- ering research on vague topics that do not address their thesis. The job becomes much easier if you have a topic, one that is specific and focused and offers something to say. Coming up with one is the challenge but it is not as difficult as it sounds. Most of us know more—a lot more—than we think we know about the world around us and the subjects we study in school. At a minimum, we all hold opinions about what is hap- pening in our world, and, whether we realize it or not, we formed those opinions based on information and experience we gathered somewhere in life. If you find yourself stuck for a topic, ask yourself a few questions to get your creative juices flowing. You will find you have a lot more to say about topics that you are involved with or that pique your interest than top- ics others might suggest. 11 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Here are some things to consider when choosing a research topic: ■ Your hobbies and special interests. ■ Class discussions that caught your attention and aroused your interest. ■ Things you have read that caught your attention and aroused your interest. ■ True stories you have heard about on the radio or saw on TV that provoked a reaction from you and made you happy, sad, angry, or disgusted. ■ Things you have overheard that you would like to know more about. ■ Your hopes for the future. ■ Your worries about the future. ■ Things you dream about. ■ Issues you think someone should do something about. Make a list of everything that comes to mind. You can use this list to begin brainstorming. Behind each topic, write a sen- tence or two about why it interests you. Do not correct or edit what you have written. Just write whatever comes to you. When you have finished the list, pick the topic that most interests you—one that you actually want to write about and that you feel you would have a lot to say about. Open-ended research papers tend to be large, even massive, projects. They are often assigned weeks ahead of when they are due in order to give you plenty of time to find material to support your arguments. Since you are going to be living with the topic for a while, it might as well be something you care about. 12 Getting Started After you have picked a topic, begin to focus it by writing down anything you can think about the topic you chose.Things to consider as you narrow your topic: ■ Your opinion about it. ■ Interesting things you have heard about it. ■ Things you have read about it. ■ Others’ observations on it. ■ Any facts, assumptions, rumors, myths, and even the misimpressions and false representations you have heard about it. If you are assigned a research topic, you do not have a lot of flexibility. The assignment that appears below is from a col- lege freshman-level composition course. It requires students to refer to the readings assigned in class, develop a central idea (or thesis), and find arguments to support it. Assignments such as this are designed to determine how well students understand certain readings and how well they can represent their understanding to others. Example assignment: The ability of music to help people rise above difficult cir- cumstances is a key theme in Oliver Sacks’ book, Musicophilia. Discuss how that affects the lives and mindsets of the two main characters in James Baldwin’s short story,“Sonny’s Blues.” If the assignment requires you to write about a specific topic, write about it. A word to the wise is important here. Never stray from an assignment and head off in a direction all your own unless you first get approval from your instructor. One of the best ways to ensure a less-than-perfect grade is to research a topic that in no way resembles the one you were 13 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers assigned. No matter how brilliant your research or how lovely your prose, you will most likely receive an F if you fail to deliver what the assignment requests. As noted earlier, instructors usually construct assignments with learning goals in mind. A student’s failure to correctly respond to an assignment means that he or she has not met those goals.Worse, it raises a red flag to the instructor who may question whether the student understood the assignment or, worse, whether the student got lazy and desperate and found a well-written essay on the Internet and decided to submit it instead. If you want to investigate a topic that was not assigned, ask your instructor if you can. Often, an instructor will be happy to let you follow your passion and conduct your own research, but always ask permission before you do. Developing a Working Thesis A thesis is a claim that you intend to prove using sound, well- reasoned arguments drawn from careful research. It will be the central statement in your paper when you actually sit down to write. In all likelihood, your working thesis will not be the one that you actually present in your paper. A working thesis simply aims to get you started on your research.You need it as an idea to guide you.Writing instructors often refer to this process of developing an idea into a working thesis as “invention.” You are “inventing” ideas for your paper. When you have finished this invention stage, you will find that you have the basis for a thesis and a good sense of direction in identifying the research you will need to support it. 14 Getting Started The working thesis should be aimed at helping you narrow and manage your topic. A working thesis that is phrased in the form of a question can help guide your research. A good work- ing thesis makes the job more manageable. Keep it focused. Avoid making it too general. Theses that are too general often ramble and result in papers that lose focus and therefore earn low grades. Here are some examples of questions for working theses that are general and not well focused: ■ Should more money be spent on education? ■ How can the government balance the budget? ■ Why should we study art? ■ What should we do about global warming? ■ How can we eliminate poverty? ■ How should we respond to the energy crisis? The following examples, however, are focused on specific issues that can be more easily researched: ■ Should more government-backed student loans be made available? ■ Should cuts in military spending be enacted before cutting domestic spending to balance the national budget? ■ Should the study of art history or the creative arts receive greater emphasis in America’s high schools? ■ Is wind energy a viable alternative to fossil fuels? ■ Will the extension of unemployment benefits improve life for the nation’s unemployed? 15 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers ■ Will the sale of electric vehicles reduce American dependence on foreign oil? Analyzing Your Audience A key test of a perfect paper is how well it resonates with its audience. It is useful, before you begin, to create a profile of a theoretical reader. Rather than focus on your instructor as your audience, assume you are addressing intelligent people of approxi- mately the same age and educational level as yourself. Assume that they have not yet read the material you have read and that you will need to provide sufficient background to ensure that the audience will understand and accept your arguments. You will determine how to present your informa- tion and ideas according to the impact you hope they will have on the reader. What You Should Know about Members of Your Audience ■ Approximate age. ■ Approximate educational level. ■ Experiences they have in common. ■ Why they would be interested in your topic. ■ How much the average reader should already know about your topic. ■ What questions a reader is likely to have. ■ How that reader might react to your arguments. 16 Getting Started Writing a Proposal Research proposals are only occasionally required in high school courses, sometimes in freshman-level college courses, and often in upper-level college business and science courses. However, even if your research assignment does not require you to submit a proposal, it is a good idea to develop one for your own purposes. A proposal helps you to organize ideas that can guide the research process. Proposals allow you to start the thought process needed to focus your ideas. A good research proposal will identify the topic, present a working thesis, and offer a plan to prove it. Think of your proposal as an outline for how you will pur- sue your research and structure your paper. Your proposal should: ■ Identify your topic. ■ Present a working thesis. ■ Identify how you will conduct your research. ■ Present a hypothesis for what you expect to prove. 17 This page intentionally left blank Chapter 2 Doing Your Research The Internet, with its speed and ubiquity, has made research much easier than it once was. Thanks to the Internet, you have a library of millions of sources at your disposal 24 hours a day. This abundance of research, however, can be overwhelm- ing. Today the problem is not how to find research material but how to work your way through the thousands (or even millions) of documents that turn up in your search. Enter a search word or phrase about a topic, any topic, into Google, Yahoo, or what- ever your favorite search engine might be, and in seconds you will be presented with pages upon pages of two-line sum- maries of articles that contain it. Google and other search engines “weight” the results by putting the most likely matches at the top, but the chore of finding the perfect source to meet your research needs is still left to you. 19 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Useful Research Sites and Search Engines Topic Search site Academic ReferenceDesk.org (www.referencedesk.org) Librarians’ Internet Index (http://lii.org) Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) Merriam-Webster Dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com/) Business bNet (www.bnet.com) Harvard Business Review (www.hbr.org) Government Firstgov.gov (www.usa.gov/Topics/Teens.shtml) Searchgov.com (www.searchgov.com) News Google News (http://news.google.com) Newspaper Archive (www.newspaperarchive.com) Science Scirus (www.scirus.com) Searching the Internet Google is, no doubt, the most used and, certainly, the best- known search engine on the Internet. The question for researchers who use it and other search engines that scan the entire Internet is: How reliable is the information? One thing you need to know when you do Internet research is that anyone can publish anything on the Web. For that reason, it can be very difficult to determine if the articles you find are based on complete, factual, and reliable informa- tion. It is not always easy to determine whether the article you are reading makes conclusions based on facts or on other fac- tors, such as advertising or promotion, that account for it being on the Web. E-commerce sites, for instance, are in the 20 Doing Your Research business of selling products. Political sites are in the business of selling ideas. The information on them may be what you are looking for but it may also be slanted to promote a par- ticular product, agenda, or point of view. Search engines, such as Google, will find what you are looking for but they cannot evaluate the material to ensure it is acceptable for a research paper. Google offers a number of specialized look-up features that help you control the search. Google Scholar (http://scholar. google.com), for instance, offers you a quick way to search across many different academic sources, including scholarly articles from academic journals and publishers, professional societies, and university Web sites. Google News (http://news. google.com) provides access to 25,000 news sources. Google Books (http://books.google.com) offers full-text searches of books, as well as related book reviews and other Web refer- ences to the books. Utilizing Keyword Searches Strategies for conducting a successful Internet search for sources differ according to whether you are accessing publica- tions through the databases of an academic library or using a popular search engine, such as Google. College students are encouraged to conduct their searches through their university’s academic library. University search engines access catalogs of print sources, as well as print publi- cations that are available in electronic format, including CDs, DVDs, and other multimedia resources that are available through the library network. They also provide access to elec- tronic databases of publications that are available only to member libraries and research institutions. 21 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Institutional search engines, such as those offered through your university, high school, or library system typically offer options for how to search for sources. These typically include quick look-ups under subject indexes, names of journals and databases, by authors and titles, and by keywords. This multi- plicity of search mechanisms and the various resource catalogs and databases needed to access them can be confusing to newcomers. A few moments spent with a campus librarian who can orient you to the various search mechanisms can save you hours later. Simple online look-ups can be useful when you do not have access to an academic library. Keywords describe your topic and can be combined in different ways to target and nar- row your search. The search engine will look for those words throughout the text of many different articles and deliver a list- ing of the results in short summaries that can stretch on for pages. The search engine will find all references in the article and the words you are looking for may or may not be together. Using search operators, such as quotation marks around the exact phrase you want to find, and the words and, or, and not, can help you narrow the search and zero in on the articles that will be of greatest interest to you. Phrases for Keyword Searches ■ Acronyms: Use acronyms to find specific organizations, technologies, and scientific references. Examples: CDC (Centers for Disease Control) CDR (compact digital recorder) USC (University of Southern California) 22 Doing Your Research ■ Alternate spellings: Use alternate and “sound-alike” spellings when you are unsure of names or the exact spelling of other terms. Examples: Gabriel LaBoiteaux, LaBoytoe, Labertew ■ Quotation marks (“ “): Use quotation marks to restrict your search to exact names and unique phrases inside the quotes. Examples: “Patrick Henry” “American Revolution” “Give me liberty or give me death” ■ And: Use and to find articles that include both of the terms that it links. Example: “Patrick Henry” and “Give me liberty or give me death.”This search will find only articles in which Patrick Henry’s name and the full phrase,“Give me liberty or give me death,” appear. ■ Or: Use or to find articles that include one term or the other. Example: “Patrick Henry” or “Give me liberty or give me death.”This search will find articles that mention Patrick Henry, articles that include the phrase,“Give me liberty or give me death,” and articles that include both. ■ Not … and not: Use not or and not to deliberately exclude terms from your search. Example: “Patrick Henry” not “Give me liberty or give me death”. This search will find articles that mention Patrick Henry but will exclude articles where his name appears with the phrase,“Give me liberty or give me death.” 23 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Figure 2.1 Google’s Advanced Search offers a form you can complete to focus your search. You can also control your search for information on the Internet by using the advanced search feature that is offered by many of the search engines. Advanced search essentially does what operators do, but, instead of entering the operators as part of your keyword search, you enter your search terms into a form. These forms can be very specific, even allowing you to restrict searches by the domain, number of finds you want returned on each page, and the time frame in which the mate- rial was posted to the Web. (See Figure 2.1.) 24 Doing Your Research Using Library and Database Resources Many times instructors will recommend, or even require, that student researchers avoid the popular search engines and, instead, take their search for information to the library. A visit to the library can transform your research efforts from simple look-ups into an educational experience that reveals many more resources that are open to you. Not only is a library a source of countless texts, but it is also a place where you can seek the help of reference librarians who are schooled in using both print and digital resources to find reli- able sources of information.Research librarians can also help you review and understand the requirements of an assignment, help you get started, and direct you in your search for information. Libraries also offer you the advantage of being able to access books, articles, and other documents that are off-limits to average users. Databases such as Academic Search Premier, The Encyclopedia Britannica, EBSCO, ProQuest, and Lexis/Nexis offer access to a wide range of scholarly articles and journals that would otherwise require an ID and password for access. Most public and university libraries are members of these data- base networks, and they allow you to access them through computers in the library or by entering information from your library card or student ID. Many libraries offer their own search engines for finding articles in specialized databases. Usually, they allow you to search by categories (such as the humanities, science, or business) and click on a journal to browse it or to enter keywords to search across databases, much like you do when using an online search engine. 25 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Finding Books at the Library All libraries are repositories of recorded information, but not all libraries are alike. Their collections differ—both in the kinds of materials they offer and in how they categorize them. Public libraries, for instance, typically feature large sections of popular fiction, while research libraries may offer classical fiction but few titles that you would find on a current best-seller list. If you were looking for vampire novels, for instance, you are likely to find Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic classic, Dracula, but do not expect it to share a shelf with the recent popular Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Library collections are also limited by the physical capacity of the buildings. Fortunately, most of today’s libraries are con- nected through networks to other, affiliated libraries, allowing you to order titles that can be delivered locally. The library’s card catalog tells you what is in your library’s collection and what can be ordered through its network. All libraries use some form of cataloging or classification system to organize books. This allows library patrons to easily find the books on the shelves and tells librarians how to return them to their proper places when borrowers bring them back. Libraries use a variety of different classification schemes to index and shelve their books.The two most widely used are the Dewey Decimal Classification system (DDC) and the Library of Congress Classification system (LCC). The Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) was developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876 to standardize the way in which books were organized within libraries. The Library of Congress Classification System (LCC) was developed in 1897 by the U.S. Library of Congress to meet the archival needs of 26 Doing Your Research the U.S. government. More than 95 percent of U.S. libraries use one or the other to provide a logical system for helping researchers and readers quickly locate titles about their topics. Most U.S. research and university libraries have moved to the LCC, while the DDC continues as the system most often found in public and school libraries. The categories in the two sys- tems tend to reflect one another, although the precise alphanumeric system used by each is different. Both systems are constantly being expanded to keep up with the ever- growing body of published knowledge. Researchers who lack a working knowledge of either sys- tem can always ask a librarian to point them in the right direc- tion. However, it helps to have a basic understanding of how the systems work, particularly if you plan to browse the library shelves for books on your topic. Decoding Call Numbers Both the DDC and the LCC use alphanumeric systems to iden- tify titles according to topic. Each title is assigned an identifica- tion number, called a “call number,” according to how it is classified in the DDC or LCC. Because it uses a system in which the categories and sub- categories are divisible by 10, many researchers find DDC call numbers more logical and easier to use than the LCC’s alphanumeric codes. The DDC organizes topics under 10 gen- eral categories that are identified by number. Each category is further divided into subcategories, also identified by number. DDC codes continue with a decimal-based system that is rela- tively easy to decipher as you zero in on your subject. Many times, the decimal is followed by a letter which indicates the first letter of the last name of the author. 27 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers The 10 general categories of the Dewey Decimal System include: 000 Generalities 100 Philosophy and psychology 200 Religion 300 Social sciences and anthropology 400 Language 500 Natural sciences and mathematics 600 Technology and applied sciences 700 The arts 800 Literature and rhetoric 900 Geography and history For a list of the subclassifications under each category, see Appendix A in this book. For more information about the DDC, visit the Dewey Services page of the Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) at www.oclc.org/dewey. LCC call numbers begin with a letter, designating the general category, followed by either another letter or a num- ber that designates the subcategory. Deciphering LCC codes is trickier and may require the help of a librarian. The first let- ter in an LCC call number refers to one of the 21 categories represented in the system.The initial digit is followed by a let- ter or number combination that represents the subcategory. However, some categories in the LCC (including E and F which represent the history of the Americas) use numbers to indicate the subcategory and others (such as D which repre- sents some areas of history, and K which represents Law) use three letters. The digits that follow the category and subcate- gory in the call number further define the subject. The final three letter-number combination in the call number is called 28 Doing Your Research the “cutter number.” It provides a code to the name of the author or the organization that sponsored the publication. The 21 general categories of the LCC include: A General works B Philosophy, psychology, religion C Auxiliary sciences of history, such as archaeology and genealogy D World history and the history of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and so on E–F History of the Americas G Geography, anthropology, recreation H Social sciences J Political science K Law L Education M Music and books on music N Fine arts P Language and literature Q Science R Medicine S Agriculture T Technology and engineering U Military science V Naval science Z Bibliography and library science, information resources You will find a full list of LCC categories and subcategories in Appendix B of this book. More information about the LCC can be found online through the Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service at www.loc.gov/cds/classif.html. 29 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Using Library Catalogs No matter which system your library uses, your search for books at the library will begin with the library’s catalog. A library catalog is much like any other catalog. It is a record of everything that is available to you. Items within the library are indexed by their call numbers and arranged on the shelves according to their categories and subcategories. Using LCC and DDC Call Numbers An example of how both systems work can be seen in Figure 2.2. The card, from the online catalog of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, which serves as a major regional research library, as well as the community lending library for southwest Ohio, uses both systems and displays call numbers for each in its catalog. In this example,the card lists both the DDC and the LCC num- bers for the book Theodore Rex, one volume in Edmund Morris’ three-part biography of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The LCC call number is the top number circled on the screen. It is E757,M885 2001. The initial letter, E, indicates the category, history of the Americas.The subclass, history of the United States, is indicated by the number that follows (757). M885 is its cutter number. The cutter number begins with a letter to identify the first letter of the author’s last name, M for Edmund Morris, and provides additional numeric references to identify the book. The number at the end, 2001, indicates the year of publication. The Dewey Decimal call number, shown in the circle below the LCC, codes the number numerically according to a base–10 system in which the first number, in the hundreds column, represents the main category, and the second letter, 30 Doing Your Research Figure 2.2 The online catalog of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County uses both the DDC and LCC classification systems. in the tens column, represents the subcategory. Unlike the LCC, there are no exceptions to this from category to category. The DCC call number for Theodore Rex is 973.91.The number is in the 900 range, indicating that it is classified under history and geography.The second number identifies that the book is in the subcategory for North America, the 970s. The additional numbers add specificity to the identification. Do not be chagrined if it all seems like too much to remem- ber.The reference librarians at your library can help you decipher the systems and help you find books for your topic. If you have 31 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers the author’s name and title, they can readily retrieve the titles from the library stacks. If you have the call number, your search will be even easier. It simplifies the process. In addition to the call number, the card also provides useful information about the title.Each card in the catalog offers a com- plement of information about the title that can help you deter- mine just how useful it is likely to be. As seen in Figure 2.2, the cards also include information on: 1. The year of publication, useful in determining how timely the information will be. 2. The editions that are available in the library, useful in ensuring that you get the version you need. 3. Types of illustrations you will find in the book, useful if you are in need of photographs, maps, or diagrams. 4. The number of pages, useful in determining how much reading is required. 5. Its current availability in the library, useful in determining whether a visit to the shelf will be fruitful or whether you will need to order the book. Browsing for Information Knowing the category and subcategory designations for your topic also allows you to peruse the library shelves and browse titles in your subject area. Browsing is often useful in the early stages of your search for information because it allows you to open the books and scan the tables of contents, indexes, intro- ductions, and chapter headings of books on your topic. These, in turn, can offer you a good idea of how helpful the work will be. Browsing, however, can be time-consuming. 32 Doing Your Research To use your browsing time effectively, acquaint yourself with the categories under which you will likely find titles about your topic. Learn where the categories are shelved in the library. Typically, you will find topic labels or the range of call numbers for the topics in that aisle posted at the ends of indi- vidual aisles. After identifying the call numbers for your topic and subtopic, you will be able to go directly to the shelves where titles on your topic are located. Keep in mind, however, that the best materials on your topic might not always be in the section where you are brows- ing. If a publication covers a variety of topics, it may be classi- fied under one that is different from what you looked up. Fortunately, subjects in card catalogs are cross-referenced so that you can search by title of the work,author’s name,and a vari- ety of keywords, as well as by subject.Your search will produce a record of the books with a “call number,” or identification code. Libraries typically organize their shelves sequentially according to the system they use and label the ends of the aisles with the range of numbers to be found on the shelves in each aisle. A Browsing Strategy 1. Identify the main category in the DDC or LCC system (whichever one your library uses) under which you are likely to find your topic. 2. Identify the logical subcategory under which your topic would fall. 3. Make a notation of the category and subcategory identification codes. 4. Use the first digit in the identification code to find your aisle. 5. Use the second digit in the code to identify the range of shelves containing titles on the subcategory. 33 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers 6. Find titles that fit your topic. 7. Review the chapter headings, introduction, index, relevant pages, illustrations, and captions in the volume to identify how helpful the title will be. 8. As you browse through the shelves, remember that when the initial digits of the identification codes change, you’ll be leaving your topic and moving into another. Looking up Articles in Periodicals Finding articles in periodicals that are relevant to your topic can be a bit trickier because they tend to be indexed in sepa- rate databases organized by subject. Electronic look-ups provide the fastest and easiest way of finding articles, allowing you to search on the subject and keywords to zero in on your topic. Frequently, you begin at the same search form that you would use to find book titles. However, articles are usually found through databases that require a bit more searching because you may have to access more than one database to find what you are looking for. To find articles and essays on your subject: 1. Review the list of databases and periodical indexes that are available at your library. 2. Identify the databases that might address your topic, such as Business Source Premier, for business articles, or MEDLINE for biomedical literature. 3. If you have difficulty finding an appropriate specialized database, use one such as Academic Search Premier or JSTOR which cuts across numerous categories. 4. Go to the search screen for your database. 34 Doing Your Research 5. Enter keywords to begin your search. 6. Select logical titles from the results that you receive. 7. Click on each title to retrieve the article citation. 8. Read the abstract, or summary, to see whether that article contains the type of information you are seeking. 9. Click to retrieve the full text if it is available electronically or use the citation information to order the article via e- mail or through your library. Figure 2.3 shows an example of an article citation that was found in the Academic Search Premiere database. Figure 2.3 Periodical databases such as the Academic Search Premiere offer a quick and easy way to look up articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers. 35 McGraw-Hill’s Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers Note that it gives the title of the article and the source, the date of publication, volume and issue numbers, and informa- tion on the length, as well as the subject terms under which the article is cross-referenced. The abstract, which offers a short description of the information in the article, will be most help- ful in identifying whether or not the article suits your research needs. Many times, the citation will include a summary or abstract, which will give you a good idea of the contents of the article. Abstracts can help you identify which articles provide the most helpful information about your subject. For instance, Figure 2.3 shows a citation of an article that turned up in a search for information on electric cars that included the search terms “electric cars” and “Toyota.”The abstract notes: This article looks at popular Toyota automobiles from the 1950s to the 2000s. In 1950, Toyota exported the Crown and Land Cruiser; Toyopet Crown was the com- pany’s bestseller. In the 1980s, Toyota introduced a line of sports cars, including the Supra Turbo; the Corolla was its bestseller. In the 2000s, Toyota’s answer to rising oil prices is the Prius hybrid-electric vehicle; the Camry is its bestseller. From the abstract, the researcher can determine that the article does discuss Toyota’s electric hybrid but that it also includes historical information on Toyota models introduced since the 1950s. A researcher looking for information on how the hybrid enhances the company’s image might determine from the abstract that this is a good article to use, while a 36 Doing Your Research researcher who is more interested in a general discussion of hybrid technology might want to continue the search. A note of caution for beginning researchers is important here. Never confuse the abstract with the text of the article.The abstract is to help you in your search for information; it is not to be used as research. Remember that the abstract is simply a summary of what you will find in the article. It is not the article itself and, therefore, should never be quoted. After using abstracts to identify the specific articles you want to use in your research, you will need to find the full text of the article. Many journals make full text available online. Note that in Figure 2.3, researchers can click on the “HTML Full Text” button to access the article. At times, full text is available in pdf files (electronic images) that can be ordered and deliv- ered to you electronically via e-mail. When those options are not available, check with your librarian to see if the journal can be delivered from the library stacks or ordered through an interlibrary loan. One useful way of identifying additional sources of infor- mation is to check the sources of quotations and citations in articles that were helpful to you. You then have the author’s name, the title of the article, or the publication in which an arti- cle of interest might have appeared and can look it up using the same database you used to find the original article. For instance, a quotation within an article you are refer- encing for a research paper on global warming might refer- ence another article, stating: “According to a July 9, 2009, article in The New York Times, periodic warmings in the central Pacific Ocean contribute to hurricane activity in the Atlantic.” You can then look up The New York Times article to see if it 37

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McGraw-Hill's Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers ebook by Carol Ellison

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Write an effective research paper--no sweat!

The words “research paper” may send a chill down your spine. You're thinking about the hours of research and the days of writing ahead-and that's after wringing your hands about the topic! Never fear, this concise resource will guide you through the process step-by-step and make the experience painless. With veteran composition instructor Carol Ellison's advice, you'll be able to create a thought-provoking research paper that will get you the best possible grade!

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