Once you have done some preliminary research on your topic, you should be ready to begin focused research by looking more deeply into your topic by using more sophisticated research methods and techniques to access information about your topic. To help you learn the basics of academic research, we have organized a classroom trip to the TAMUCC Bell Library to visit with experts in the field of research and information literacy, the research librarians. This event will take place on October 5th.
The Research Log and Source Reviews
Once you start your focused research process, you will need to keep an on-going research log of sources that you consult. To do this we have provided you with a research log template.
You will use this template to collect a variety of sources. Every source that you consult should be listed in your research log. To help you get a deep understanding of your historical issue, you need to consult a variety of sources. You should aim to get at least 15 sources on your research log. However, you will need to make certain that you have 2 sources from each of the following genre categories:
- Books from the Bell Library. This may be a book written by one or more authors, OR, an edited anthology. Note that books are cited differently than anthologies.
- Library database articles from scholarly journals
- Non-scholarly periodical (Not an academic journal. For example, Smithsonian, or an article from the Washington Post.)
- Web page –credible/reliable sources (i.e. The Miller Center.org.)
- Primary Source Documents
Things to Consider as You are Selecting Sources
- A key objective is to find credible sources that provide different or varied perspectives on your issue. What are the experts saying?? That is, what are historians saying, writing, and arguing about your topic? Do they all see the issue from the same perspective/ lens??
- Identify what type of source you are citing. Is the publication in which your article appears a periodical? a scholarly journal? a daily newspaper? It's important that you understand the difference in order to correctly cite your source and to be able to evaluate important rhetorical elements of the piece.
- Determine the credibility of your source. Questions to consider: how long has the publication been in print? What's its ciruclation? Who is its intended audience? Who is the publisher? What authority or expertise does the author of this publication have on this subject?
Working from the sources you put in your research log, you will select three important sources that represent 3 different perspectives for your Source Review Analysis.
For each source, you will need to do the following:
In a two page, double spaced, typed document, you will review an article or media source which provides a credible, informed perspective on the issue and the research question that you have chosen.
At the top of your page, cite this source using MLA.
- Summarize and Find A Quote: Briefly the author's argument and supporting points, in your own words. What is his or her perspective on your topic? Find one sentence to quote that represents a main idea or a particular perspective. Example of a Brief Summary?
- Analyze the author's argument. What makes it an important, credible source for your research project?
- What kinds of evidence are being used in this article to support the thesis or main idea?
- Who is the publication's intended audience?
- What makes this a credible source for academic research?
- Synthesize --In what ways does speak to and interact with your other two sources? In other words, if we think of all the sources in your Research Log as being in a conversation with one another, how does this source question, affirm, or contradict your other sources?
(This assignment description is based on work done by Jen Bray)