Research Paper

Research Paper - SELECTING A TOPIC In selecting a topic,...

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SELECTING A TOPIC In selecting a topic, choose one: That is not merely descriptive That is narrow enough to allow you to do a decent job researching it For which you know that sources are readily available
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PRELIMINARY WORK Perform preliminary work to make sure your topic is practical Go to library Check to see available sources on online catalog Check bibliographies of selected books
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PLAGIARISM Worst sin a student can commit Occurs when you take someone else’s words and try to pass them off as your own When you copy someone else’s written work and then take credit for it as your own work Avoid plagiarism by simply never copying anything down word-for-word when you do your research Put what the author said in your own words when you take notes
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FINDING SOURCES I Don’t use encyclopedias (including Wikipedia) And even if you use them to get started, never ever cite them Use online library catalog to make list of possible books Determine research value of books before checking them out Books published by university presses are generally pretty good Books should have scholarly apparatus Footnotes, bibliography, good index Stay away from self-published and vanity press books Make sure book says something important on the specific topic you are researching
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FINDING SOURCES II Check bibliographies to find other useful sources Other books that did not show up on online catalog search Articles Primary sources Order appropriate other sources from Inter-Library Loan
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THE INTERNET Use it but be very careful Use search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Lycos Use keywords or keyphrases to find potentially useful websites Remember that anybody with a computer can set up a web-page and put anything they want on it Nobody edits or checks the accuracy of web-pages
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DISSERTATIONS Mostly unpublished but they often contain tremendous quantities of useful information Go to “Digital Dissertations” database from Library Contains bibliographic citations for every dissertation ever written in the United States Also contains 350-word abstracts of all dissertations written after 1980 Has full text of 1.7 million dissertations that can be ordered from website or borrowed through Inter-Library Loan Avoid Masters theses Mostly horrible
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PRIMARY SOURCES Primary sources that can be found in most libraries include newspapers, bound editions of the papers and writings of historical characters, and microfilm and microfiche copies of historical documents Other primary sources can only be found in archives Centralized depositories for documents from a certain source
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ARCHIVES EXAMPLES Tarleton archives in basement of Library Contains documents, yearbooks, and newspapers on the history of the school as well as papers of several former professors Stephenville Historical Museum National Archives (Washington D.C.)
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Research Paper - SELECTING A TOPIC In selecting a topic,...

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