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Research Tutorial

​Understanding Your Assignment

  1. Be sure you understand the research assignment and the instructor's expectations, which include:
  • Format, including citation style (MLA, APA, etc.)
  • Length
  • Voice (use of first person, etc.)
  • Sources (books, professional journals, popular magazines, websites, etc.)
  • Visuals (pictures, graphs, multimedia, etc.)
  1. Focus your thinking.
  • Brainstorm (or use other methods such as mapping or freewriting) to determine what you already know
  • Think about what questions you have about the topic
  1. Get background information and focus more.
  • Use your textbook or other class materials to help you look at the subject and how it might be developed
    • Use resources like the chapter headings, the table of contents, and the index for guidance
    • Use the bibliographies to help you find sources
  • Ask a reference librarian to help you find a subject dictionary or encyclopedia on your topic
    • Use the article's structure to help you develop your topic
    • Use the article's bibliography to help you find other sources
  1. Based on your brainstorming and background research, write a question or statement that you would like to explore in your paper.
  • Write out more questions raised by that question/statement
  • Focus! You are working toward the thesis of your paper

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