If you are already at work on a writing project, you most likely are well aware that you often need to start writing in order to discover all of your ideas about a subject. In this unit, we will take the discovery process a bit further by exploring how identifying, analyzing, and making effective use of the work of others can do even more to clarify your viewpoint and refine your thesis.
We will begin by looking at research as a concept. By now, you should feel a little more comfortable thinking of yourself as a researcher and you may be anxious to get started. To get you off on the right foot, we will look at how analysis and planning can streamline your research efforts and help you to make the best use of your findings. After that, we will dig deeply into the research process itself. In addition to learning more about traditional library research methods, you will have a chance to get acquainted with methods for conducting research in person, on your own computer, and on the Internet.
We will also define primary and secondary sources and will look at some of the merits of using both of these types of information. We will spend quite a bit of time reviewing the tools and techniques for conducting research on the Internet. You will have a chance to explore some of the most useful Internet sites for locating both printed and online information, and you will start to get a clearer idea about where to look for information in specific disciplines and to fulfill specific purposes.
Finally, we will acknowledge the importance of keeping research well-organized and clearly documented. You will get a chance to practice the best techniques for recording, organizing, and annotating the source information that you want to use.
By the end of this unit, you should have a good understanding of how to carry out your research in an organized, thoughtful manner. You should also have the opportunity to complete much of the preliminary research for your final paper and to identify any information gaps that may require further investigation.