Once you have chosen your topic, the next step is to begin collecting information you can use to support your writing. Your instructor will tell you how many sources you are required to use for each essay. Here are a few steps you can take that will make this research process easier.
The Internet is good for a lot of searches and source types. For example, if you need very current information or news and commentary, Web searching is a good strategy.
Databases are special -- they are collections of information (usually articles from magazines and scholarly sources) made available to subscribers. Databases are very valuable because they contain and maintain specific collections, and are relatively easy to search. We use the Web to access Database collections, but articles accessed are not considered "online" or "web" sources in the same way that a Wikipedia entry is.
Clues that will help you identify scholarly journals:
· Usually contain an abstract, or summary, before the main text of the article.
· Contain reports of research results.
· Always cite their sources with footnotes and/or bibliographies.
· Have serious formats rather than the glossy, slick formats found in popular magazines.
· Contain graphs or charts detailing the research described by the article.
· Are written by scholars or researchers. The authors’ affiliations will be listed on the first page or at the end of the article.
· Are usually published by a professional organization.
· Assume some technical background on the part of the reader—the language used is discipline-specific.
The Journal of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians
Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Perspectives in Psychiatric Care
New England Journal of Medicine
Journal of the American Medical Association
Journal of Theoretical Biology
Journal of Marriage and the Family
Studies in the Novel
Advances in Structural Engineering
Journal for Juvenile Justice Services
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
Two types of research:
Primary research is the kind that you conduct yourself. It includes things like observations and demonstrations, inspections, experiments, interviews and field research, which all require your presence. You must conduct the research for acquiring new information by engaging with the subject, gathering the data and analyzing it yourself
Secondary research is the kind that you do in order to find information that links your subject with research already done by someone else.
Confused about Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals?
For some assignments your instructor may ask you to locate scholarly, or peer-reviewed articles. Not sure what peer-review is all about? Check out the tutorial, "Peer Review in 3 Minutes" from North Carolina State University. If you still have questions, ask a librarian at any of your TCC campus libraries - you can contact us in person, as well as by phone, email or chat!
Most instructors have some topics that they will not allow you to research for your papers, therefore you will not find abortion, gun control, animal experimentation, and capital punishment on this list of topics. Please check with your instructor to make sure that your chosen topic is suitable for your persuasive paper.