Although your research assignment is not due for several weeks, it’s not too early to start thinking about the process of research. The first step, obviously, is to choose a topic. We will talk later about the argumentative essay (which requires research in this course), but simply put, you will be taking a stand on an issue you have a vested interest in (abortion/gun control/ privacy rights of citizens) and showing an audience why you believe the stand you took is the right one. Finding other sources to support your stand will strengthen your argument.
Where do you go to find sources? Well, the immediate response today is to go to the Internet. As you already know, I’m limiting your use of on-line “web site” type sources. You can use as many as you like, but only one will be accepted as a requirement (meaning you have to have two other types of sources as well.
Web sites are interesting places, but they are not always reliable. For one thing, the source you find on a web site might be someone’s opinion but might not have adequate support for that opinion. It’s not enough to say John Smith says gun control is a good idea. Who is John Smith and what evidence does he have that it’s good? A lot of people use web sites to “promote” their agenda without considering other viewpoints (which is not good argument). If you use a web site, make sure you know who the author is (how valid he/she is as an expert) and how thorough he/she has researched the topic. A lot of web site information has been stolen without adequate attribution. You’re guilty of plagiarizing if you don’t make sure your source hasn’t plagiarized.
The more vaild on-line source is the library-centered data base. You can find libraries of information on line these days. It’s sometimes hard for an old codger like me to appreciate it all, but there is a tremendous amount of material you can find from the comfort of you home. It can be confusing, as well, so working with your friendly librarian might be the best option for helping you find information on line. I have included here some common data bases that may prove useful to you.
Of course you still have the library texts themselves (even though the old card catalog system has been replaced by electronic searches). There is nothing wrong with browsing through a library. Give it a try. You’d be surprised how time disappears when you get involved in a trip through the shelves of the library. Some people, also, find it easier to read material on a page than on a computer screen. It does sometimes seem more relaxing to me.
Periodicals are treasures for research. You can also find lots of periodicals published on line, but the Info Track in your library will help you locate articles in good, old-fashioned magazines or journals. Information that is up to day and on target.
Finding On-line sources
This is by no means complete, but here are some good resources for conducting Internet research:
- CCC’s Douglas Library (http://www.clinton.edu/DouglasLibrary/)
- Internet Public Library (http://www.ipl.org)
- Best Info on the Internet (http://library.sau.edu/bestinfo/Hot/hotindex.htm)
- Scholarly Internet Resource Collection (http://library.csus.edu/infomine/)