This guide is intended to help students in ENG 1020 write effective research papers using correctly-cited authoritative sources. The guide will walk you through each step of the research process, from brainstorming topics to citing your sources.
Picking a topic
Choose a topic you will enjoy! This will make your work easier for you and won't tire you out so much. It also helps if the topic you are writing on is one that you have a little bit of prior knowledge about to help you form your research question(s). Two great ways to get started on your topic are brainstorming followed by prewriting.
Create one or more research questions
A research question will guide you through your research and help you know exactly what to go looking for in databases, websites, and library catalogs. It's best to start by writing down what you know and what you don't know about your topic. Based on what you have written down, write out a question that can help you fill in what you don't know about your topic. Here are some examples of strong research questions and research questions that need to be refined.
Find resources and evaluate them for quality
Learn what resources are available to you and how to navigate them -- and evaluate them to ensure that they're credible and useful sources for your paper! To evaluate something means to look closely at it, break it down, and make a judgment about it. Check out this page to see if your sources are current, relevant, authoritative, accurate, and have an appropriate purpose.
Know how to your sources correctly in your writing
In order to use your sources without plagiarizing, you should know how to take good notes and how to correctly paraphrase the information you find in your sources.
Proofread your writing for mistakes
Proofreading is the process by which you or another person reads through your final paper to check for errors, miscommunications, and inconsistencies. ALWAYS proofread your paper before you turn it in to your professor. After you have proofread your paper, it is best to have another person proofread your paper afterward.
Cite your sources (don't plagiarize!)
Use in-text citations to show what source each piece of information came from in your paper, and give a full citation for each one in your works cited page. Library books and database articles already have citations made for you! Learn how to find those citations, and how to create proper MLA citations from scratch.