120 Research Project Overview

This module contains three parts:  a DISCUSSION; an Essay/Paper; a Writing Lab.

I do research almost every day–sometimes many times a day.  With the Internet, it is ever so easy to look up just about anything I need to know.  For example, so far today I’ve googled “weather in Herkimer,” “multifocal cataract surgery,” “cutting loose hair salon driving directions,” “James Comey, FBI,” and “biking trails Cape Cod Seashore.”  And it’s not even noon yet! Research is not only required in college courses, it can also be interesting and fun. The key is understanding how to gather information in a variety of ways, not just by searching through library stacks to find books.  You can, of course, get information from “brick and mortar” libraries or online libraries.  But you can also use search engines to access Internet resources, you can do personal interviews, administer surveys, talk to experts in your subject, read blogs or join user groups where appropriate.  

Learning Activities for your Research Project

1.  Read in your Online Text the chapter on USING SOURCES.  You may just skim through parts of the chapter, but refer back to it from time to time, for example when you prepare your Works Cited page.

2.  Do some prewriting to explore a few topics.  IMPORTANT:  Choose something you are genuinely interested in and you NEED TO KNOW.  For example, maybe you’re not sure of your college major, and you need to explore job possibilities in your field.  This is definitely a “NEED TO KNOW” topic.  Or, perhaps your significant other needs a new laptop and you are a generous soul, so you NEED TO KNOW which laptop to buy him/her for a gift.  Maybe you’re planning to get a pet for your children, but you’re not sure what breed would be best.  Again you NEED TO KNOW this.  Or, your Uncle George has just been diagnosed with chlamydia and you NEED TO KNOW all you can about this disease so you can help him through it. 

IMPORTANT:  Choose a topic that you really NEED TO KNOW about, and the research will be interesting to you and to the reader. The good news in this class is that I do not assign research topics–you choose your own, and I will help you narrow it down, find ways to get your information, help you with writing and organizing your material, and check your research for correct documentation of sources.

  3.  Go to the discussion forum below and help your classmates and yourself choose a workable topic. 

  4.  Generate a list of questions that you need to answer, and then make a list of sources to explore.  For example, I need to know about cataracts, and I posed some questions in the discussion forum.  Here’s a possible list of sources I might investigate:

a.  Google the term and read two articles online.  I would make sure I wasn’t reading ADS, but legitimate medical sources such as the MAYO clinic or Opthalmalogy Journal.

b.  I might go to the office of a nearby eye doctor and collect brochures on cataracts.  I might also request a quick interview with the doctor.

c.  I could get anecdotal evidence from three senior citizens who have had cataracts removed.  (I must remember this is anecdotal–not scientific material).

d.  I could check my local library and ask the research librarian to help me find materials (books/medical journals).  I could skim through a few printed sources and take notes–remembering to document where I got my information.

e.  I might go online again and look for blogs or user groups dealing with cataracts.  These sources can be very helpful, but always keep in mind you’re getting personal opinions, not documented facts.

 5.  Now it’s time to organize your material and get some content down on paper.  I’ve found that an easy way to organize is to USE YOUR QUESTIONS, and arrange them in logical order.  Then, proceed to answer your questions using the research you’ve gathered together.  MAKE SURE TO CITE YOUR SOURCES/DOCUMENT WHERE YOU GOT YOUR INFORMATION.  You will need to go to your online textbook (see #1 above) now and really pay attention to the correct form for citing sources.  NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO VISIT YOUR LEARNING /TUTORING CENTER FOR HELP if you aren’t clear about this.

6.  Write your paper; You should have as many paragraphs as you have questions to answer, plus an introduction and conclusion.  YOU NEED A MINIMUM OF THREE (3) DIFFERENT SOURCES FOR THIS PAPER!  

7. Check for correct documentation within the paper, AND for a proper WORKS CITED page. ***GO BACK TO THE TEXTBOOK CHAPTER “USING SOURCES.”  You need to choose either MLA Style or APA Style.  You do not need to read about both.  Generally, if you will be majoring in the Social Sciences you would be using APA Style.  General Studies/Humanities majors would use MLA Style.  If you don’t know, use MLA Style as your default.

  It is especially important for you to avoid plagiarism in this assignment. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT PLAGIARISM IS AND HOW TO AVOID IT!

***USING SafeAssign MEANS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO AVOID PLAGIARISM, SINCE it “catches” this.

FINALLY, submit your essay to the SafeAssign dropbox

LOOK FOR THE WRITING LAB ASSIGNMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LEARNING MODULE.

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