This page addresses the research process -- the things that should be done before the actual writing of the paper -- and strategies for engaging in the process. Although this LibGuide focuses on researching poems or poetry, this particular page is more general in scope and is applicable to most lower-division college research assignments.
Before beginning any research process, first be absolutely sure you know the requirements of the assignment. Things such as
These formal requirements are as much a part of the assignment as the paper itself. They form the box into which you must fit your work. Do not take them lightly.
When possible, it is helpful to subdivide the overall research process into phases, a tactic which
Although there are many details that must be given attention in writing a research paper, there are three major criteria which must be met. A well-written paper is
Although a research assignment can be daunting, there are things which can make the process less stressful, more manageable, and yield a better result. And they are generally applicable across all types and levels of research.
1. Be aware of the parameters of the assignment: topic selection options, due date, length requirement, source requirements. These form the box into which you must fit your work.
2. Treat the assignment as a series of components or stages rather than one undivided whole.
3. Leave enough time between your final draft and the submission date of your work that you can do one final proofread after the paper is no longer "fresh" to you. You may find passages that need additional work because you see that what is on the page and what you meant to write are quite different. Even better, have a friend or classmate read your final draft before you submit it. A fresh pair of eyes sometimes has clearer vision.
4. If at any point in the process you encounter difficulties, consult a librarian. Hunters use guides; fishermen use guides. Explorers use guides. When you are doing research, you are an explorer in the realm of ideas; your librarian is your guide.
Research requires engagement with various types of sources.
Accessing sources requires going through various "information portals," each designed to principally support a certain type of content. Houston Cole Library provides four principal information portals:
NOTE: There is no predetermined hierarchy among these information portals as regards which one should be used most or gone to first. These considerations depend on the task at hand and will vary from assignment o assignment.
The link below provides further information on the different source types.