Twenty-first century students don’t need to spend a lot of time learning how to find information. After all, many of you are online everyday gathering information: reconnecting with people, finding open classes through PiratesNet, downloading driving directions, weather forecasts, song lyrics, recipes, and celebrity gossip.
But gathering information is not research! Research requires that you find information, of course, but it also demands much more from you. The MLA Handbook defines research in terms of exploring ideas, probing issues, solving problems, or making arguments relating to existing ideas. Yes, you need information to complete these tasks, but you also need lots of time to read the information you find, to reflect on it in terms of what you already know and what you are learning, and to write multiple drafts of speeches/papers so that you can present your research as clearly, logically, and successfully as possible.
This guide offers you a set of steps to follow that will move you beyond the mere gathering of information, and into the realm of real academic research. It will help you develop a research strategy that will, with time and practice, enable you to become a more efficient researcher, saving you time and sanity.
Feel free to return to this guide as many times as you need. Of course, if you find you need additional help, please remember that MJC Research Librarians are happy to work with you and can help you personally at the reference desk or online at Ask a Librarian.
Take a look at the graphic below to see the 8 Steps to Writing a Research Paper. Just follow these steps to have a successful and painless research experience: