Researching an “A” paper
Where do I begin?
You need to figure out a few things before you panic. You probably have a few other assignments and presentations to do as well and need to answer the question:
When should I start?
Use this calculator
from the University of Minnesota to show you what needs to be done when.
Try thinking of the process in 5 steps:
- Reading the Assignment – understanding what your professor expects of you
- Developing a Topic – the reading, thinking and writing that are part of your research process
- Searching for Information – finding and accessing information from the web, the library and elsewhere
- Choosing Your Sources – determining what information is reliable and relevant to your topic
- Citing Sources – learning how to cite sources properly
What should I write about? (steps 1 and 2)
You need to read the assignment and be sure you understand exactly what the professor expects of you. See the Writing Center’s Writing Tips
page to assist you as well. Use the tools from Credo
to create a concept map, and to find basic encyclopedia articles about your topic to get some good ideas for search terms and be better informed. There are two search boxes to the left to help you get started.
What kind of information do I need? Where can I find it? (step 3)
Come see us at the library anytime. There are many different sources at your disposal:
For articles (scholarly or trade): Databases
(listed by subject area)
What is the difference between primary and secondary sources
? Remember to double check if your professor specified whether you need primary or secondary sources, or if you can you use websites.
A great way to evaluate whether what you have found will be useful and reliable is to use the CRAAP test
(provided by Meriam Library of California State University, Chico)
Choosing and Citing your sources (steps 4 and 5)
- Only use what you think will support your thesis statement or argument.
- Double check with your professor to determine which style (MLA, APA, Chicago) you need.
- Be sure to adhere to Providence College's Academic Integrity, Cite properly.
- Use the Purdue University Online Writing Lab to guide you.
- There are many tools available for free or a minimal annual fee:
You can set up more than one session with a librarian for help with research. Go to the Writing Center for revision and assistance at any time. You may spend as much time, and sometimes even more time researching, than actually writing your paper.