Deciding and narrowing a research topic are important first steps in the research process. Remember, the topic you choose will likely be the focus of your work for a considerable chunk of the semester. Use these activities to help you find a topic you’ll enjoy researching and that fits the parameters of your assignment.
Finding the sources you need to conduct your research involves a variety of methods. Researchers usually locate sources from more than one place and often examine and cite numerous sources to help support their arguments. Keeping track of your searches and sources is crucial to effective and efficient research. Use these activities to help you get started with finding and tracking your secondary sources.
Once you’ve found some secondary sources, you need to read and annotate (take notes) them as well as evaluate them for quality and relevance. You’ll likely be working with a lot of sources, so take notes on each source to keep track of what you’ll eventually synthesize for your support. Also, don’t waste your time on sources that aren’t high quality or that don’t help you meet your research agenda. Use the activities below to help you develop solid note-taking techniques and evaluative skills.
After reading, annotating, and evaluating each individual source, you need to begin synthesizing your sources. Strong and clear synthesis of secondary sources signals that you have a solid understanding of the research themes related to your topic. Doing so is no easy feat. Use the activities in this section to help you get started with identifying the similarities and differences across the wide body of research you are examining.
Beginning the drafting process can be daunting. At some point, however, you have to commit some words to paper…or the screen. And, the process doesn’t stop there. Once you have a draft, you need to obtain audience feedback on your writing and critically review how well you’ve organized, developed, and focused the ideas in your paper. Luckily, we have a bunch of activities to help you with these steps in the process.
After reviewing and addressing any major revisions in your work, you’ll need to make time to polish your work by carefully proofreading and making stylistic improvements. Also, at this stage, you might be expected to share your research in presentation form. The activities in this section provide you with some strategies for polishing your work and adapting it to a variety of presentation styles and mediums.
Reflecting on your writing allows you to observe your strengths and challenges as a writer. Perhaps, more importantly, reflecting on your work gives you an opportunity to see the progression in your thinking as well as all the hard work you’ve accomplished. Whether reflecting through words or visuals or sound–or a combination of these modes–you can think through your process and identify the things that worked and things that didn’t.