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How to Perform Research

The goal of your research paper is to make a persuasive argument built around research found in one primary source and five or more secondary sources. At least 3 of the secondary sources must be from journal articles or physical books or ebooks.

This research guide will help to meet the following objectives:

  • Learn how to construct an effective search for information.
  • Learn which library databases contain information on specific subjects.
  • Learn how to search for credible sources.
  • Learn how to search for peer-reviewed sources.

Peer reviewed studies: You can identify such sources by their inclusion of reference to previous studies related to the topic, formulation of the study, procedure, method, application, observations, discussion, and conclusion.

To begin, answer the following questions:

  • When is the assignment due?
  • Do I understand the assignment?
  • What is the assignment?
  • How many pages are required for the research paper?
  • Do I have to use specific resources?
  • How many resources do I need?
  • What kind of resources do I need or must I use?
  • What is the required writing and documentation style?

The answers will assist by keeping you focused during the writing process.

                                          --After the Research Guide prepared by Jeff Simpson at Troy University Library.

Defining your topic is a multi-part process.

  • First, choose your topic. If a specific topic is not assigned to you, you might get ideas for a topic from your course text, class notes, or class discussions, or by exploring some of the library's databases.
     
  • Remain flexible.  You may wish to change or alter your research topic depending on what you uncover in your research.  For instance, if you find too little information on a topic, you may wish to broaden your topic.  If you find too much information on a topic, you may wish to narrow your topic.  Or, if you find information you were not expecting, you may even want to alter your topic entirely. 

If you do not know very much about your topic, find background information or an overview of the subject matter, then you can narrow it down as needed. 

                                       --Modified from Morton College Library's Guide to Writing a Research Paper