33 5. Introduction to Research
(You may want to print copies of this and other lessons on research so you can refer to them later)
An important component to this course is researched writing. Although you can use research for just about any essay you write, you will be required to use research for your final out-of-class essay, the Argumentative Essay. The argumentative essay requires you to take a stand on an issue and show why that is the right choice. You use a lot of your own ideas and opinions, but you can strengthen your point by using good research, information borrowed from others.
Research is an important skill, one that you will use regularly in school and possibly well beyond. It does not have to be a scary concept. It should be something you find rewarding and beneficial. It’s an opportunity to grow, to learn, to borrow other people’s ideas and use them for your own needs. If done correctly, and can be a big aid. If done incorrectly, and can lead to many problems.
We will be going over many aspects of researched writing over the next few weeks. Although the required assignment is not due until near the end of the semester, I’d like you to start working with research and understanding how it works. We will cover a lot of the ideas that may sound a little confusing right now, but I will list for you the requirements for your research project:
- MLA format- I will require that you use MLA format for your argumentative paper (and other papers that you may choose to use research in ). We will go over a lot of the rules governing MLA, but the handbook will be a valuable source for you.
- Number of sources- you will be required to use three borrowed sources. I need to see evidence that you know how to use research to support your ideas, and a minimum of three sources will help me evaluate how you’ve done.
- Text source- I’d like you to use one source from the library. The library certainly has changed its format in the past several years. A library source can be the traditional text you find on the shelves, but a lot of books can now also be found in on-line databases. Either way, you can still find a lot of support from librarians, who can point you in either direction. I just want to make sure you understand the difference between databases and Internet web sites. We will talk lots more about this as we go along.
- Periodical- I would like one source to be a periodical (magazine, newspaper, journal). Periodicals provide up-to-date information, which is very important in today’s always-changing world. Again, this can be a hard copy or an online article.
- Open source- the third source can be anything, including a personal interview or an on-line source. We will talk more about this, but you must be careful when choosing Internet sources. Some are great. Some are weak. You need to know where the information you are borrowing comes from.
- Works Cited- I will require you to use a Works Cited Page. We will go over this thoroughly, but I need to see proof that you borrowed the info from specific sources. The citations in your text have to match your Works Cited Page.
- Length- there is no specific length requirements for this paper, but it probably will be longer than your average essay. You’ve got not only your ideas but borrowed sources as well. That’s why I want you to pick a topic that you have an interest in. Choose an argument because it’s caught your attention, not because it might have lots of information.
Again, we will be going over this concept regularly over the next several weeks. I look at researched writing as a process and will help you examine the several steps involved in that process. I just wanted to introduce the concept so you can begin thinking about it even now.