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EN 1201 - College Writing II (Stamps)

How to Become a Professional Researcher

Step #1: Ask good questions

It is important before you start your research, to spend some time thinking about your topic. By identifying key themes, you will be able to develop a better idea of what your research might look like.
Start by trying to answer the following questions:
What don’t you know about this topic?
Why is it important?
Why are you interested in it?

Step #2: Figure out what kind of information you need

 Consider your assignment and its purpose. Are you writing an overview of a topic or taking a stance on an issue? Who will be reading it? There any many different types of resources and answering this question will tell you what kind of resources you should use.
  Academic Popular Books
Use for Original research and experimentation Current events, opinions, and general information Broad coverage of topics
Look Plain, long articles, may contain charts and graphs Glossy, contains color photos and everyday product advertisements May have pictures to support text, broken down into chapters
Authors Experts in their field Journalists/reporters, staff or freelance writers Experts in their field
Audience Professors, researchers, students Anyone Varies
Citations  Footnotes or bibliography References may be mentioned in text Footnotes or bibliography

Step #3: Find the research you need

The Library's website is a great place to start your research because our resources are a higher quality than what you can find free on Google. 

The big search box is called Summon. It is a "Google-like" tool that searches many DelVal databases (and the book catalog) at the same time. It is a nice time saver, and it often uncovers resources that you might otherwise have overlooked.

We also have many other databases, which are organized by subject, which might be better for your research.

Interlibrary Loan

If a book or article you want is not available, use Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The Library can order books and articles from other libraries. This process takes few days but is completely free for DelVal students, faculty, and staff.

Before you submit an ILL, check Google Scholar or Summon to see if we have immediate access or if it is freely available online.

How to Make your Paper Great

Step #4: Make sure it is good

Does this match what I have found elsewhere?
Important characteristics:

qualified author will have a background in the field they are writing about. The authors should not show bias. Opinions are backed by research and evidence.

current publication date is something within the last 10 years typically. This can be shorter in the sciences.

bibliography or other references are important because they let us know where the author is getting their information from.

Step #5: Organize your thoughts

Now that you have some research you want to use, outline what you need to understand and deal with each piece individually. Identify connections as you write
Find 1-2 resources to support each topic. You are unlikely to find one article or book that is going to cover everything you want to talk about. 

Step #5: Join the Conversation

Read through the bibliography or works cited. Are there papers that are cited a lot? Are there other resources that might be useful to you?

Most of our databases include tools to help you find other people engaged in the conversation.

Look for areas of overlap in your reading. Keep these questions in mind:

  1. Do any authors bring up the same points?
  2. Do they agree or disagree?
  3. Why does an author bring up a specific point, and how can you relate it to your own ideas about the topic?

How to Beat Research Stress

Step #7: Ask for help