Open Educational Resources (OER):
Research is a process to discover new knowledge. Does the word research sound overwhelming to you? The goal of this resource is help you with the research process. If you are experiencing questions or challenges at any stage of your research or paper writing, please seek out a librarian in person, through chat, or by phone - Contact Us. Nicolet College Librarians are eager to assist you!!!
Step #1: The first step is to choose a topic of something that interests you and that you want to know more about. If you are drawing a blank with selecting a topic, some questions to ask yourself:
University of Michigan - Flint, Frances Willson Thompson Library: Brainstorming for a Topic
Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) is an electronic resource to which the Nicolet College Library subscribes that may be a helpful source to also trigger some ideas of interest for a research topic.
Some questions to ask to ensure the topic is manageable, narrow enough or broad enough:
University of California - Santa Cruz, University Library: Narrow or broaden a topic
Make a list of keywords, a variety of terms, or closely related terms, to your topic or that are likely to retrieve information on the chosen topic. Example: Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, memory loss. Keep this list at your fingertips throughout the research process, as you may find additional terms to add to it.
Step #2: Once the topic is chosen, search out a specialized encyclopedia reference to read an overview of the topic. You may discern from this reading that the topic is too broad or narrow. Encyclopedic entries include references to related keywords to search for additional information on the topic. These entries will also include citations for resources used to compile the encyclopedic entry. These citations are worthy of exploring for your paper.
Nicolet College online resources include access to Gale Virtual Reference Library that includes many specialized encyclopedias. Using the Topic Finder tab offers a visual of the topic with related terms.
If the topic seems too broad, consider narrowing by geographic area; culture; time frame; discipline, i.e. logging; or population group. An example, from the University of Michigan-Flint Frances Willson Thompson Library that demonstrates narrowing from a broad term down to the question to be researched:
Step #3: The search begins. Use the keywords identified in the previous steps to search your library's resources of physical materials (books, video, and audio resources) and electronic resources. The vast amount of information readily available today requires careful attention to select resources that are most likely to offer timely, accurate information from credible creators.
Step #4: Evaluate the information found. It is crucial to know where the information is coming from, who wrote/created the information, the date of the information, why the information was written or compiled, and how the information was compiled or prepared. One tool to use for evaluating information is labeled the CRAP method. Please reference the tab to the right to guide you through your information according to the CRAP criteria.
Periodicals, serials, journals, and magazines are terms used for publications commonly used in research. Along with those terms are descriptors of peer-reviewed, scholarly, and popular. These terms and descriptors are well defined by the University of Michigan-Flint, Frances Willson Thompson Library. Peer reviewed means that the information has been reviewed by experts in a field before being accepted for publication in a journal. More credence is typically given to peer-reviewed articles than those approved by editors of newspapers and popular magazines.
Step #5: Compile the information gathered from various sources into your paper. You may want to use a Topic Concept Map (see below), along with the BEAM concept to guide the process of building your paper. (What could a writer do with this source? by (Kristin M. Woodward/Kate L. Ganski) / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License)
Step #6: Cite your sources. Nicolet College's chosen format for citing sources is American Psychological Assocation (APA) Style. Ideally, you have been gathering citations all along the research process. This step is to eliminate the sources that you did not use to compile your paper.
Step #7: Pat yourself on the back! You've created a research paper :)
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