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HIST 102 - History of the United States Since 1865 - Mo

This guide will help you with your research assignment for Eva Mo's History 102 course

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Iris Carroll
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The Research Process

Research process graphic

Research is not a mystery or a sadistic torture ritual that your teacher inflicts upon you. It's a simple process that you follow  to strategically explore and learn about a topic that you find interesting. Here's how  it works:

1. Research Topic

  • Read your assignment to clarify your research topic and any specific requirements, like how many and what kind of sources you need.
  • Do some Background Reading to begin learning about your topic and deciding what aspect of it you want to focus on. In order to know how you want to tackle your topic, you need to know what people are saying about it. By learning how are scholars, researchers, and professionals are framing the discussion about your topic you'll begin to think about what you want to say about it.
  • Create Research Questions that interest you and that you'll use to explore your topic.

2. Select Keywords 

  • Choose keywords from your assignment and your background reading.
  • Use keywords to search for sources that are relevant to your research.

3. Search for Sources

  • Use the library catalog, article databases, and the Web to find sources of information that answer your research questions.
  • Be strategic in your search. Start out by finding broad overview information then focus in on finding information that helps you further your points or arguments.

4. Evaluate Sources

  • Ask yourself, are the sources relevant to the points you're making about your research topic?
  • Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate your sources. Are the sources Credible, Relevant, Authoritative, and Accurate?
  • What is the author's Purpose in writing this material? Is it to persuade you to a particular point of view?

5. Create Source List

  • You need to cite all the sources you used to explore your topic and write your paper
  • You'll create a References list or a Works Cited list that goes at the end of your paper
  • Your teacher will let you know what format you should use.
  • Your source list shows where you got the information to support your research topic and gives credit to that person or organization.
  • By including your source list you demonstrate that you did not plagiarize or copy someone else's work.