We engage in casual “research” almost every day (a quick Google search here, a Wikipedia hit there), but the kind of research in which you’re about to engage is of a much different variety: this process asks you to explore a topic of inquiry as a scholar, using new skills, testing new strategies, investigating various angles, and making thoughtful decisions about what you uncover. While it’s true that a polished research essay will reflect what you found as you researched, it doesn’t explicitly reflect how you got there. This writing assignment asks you to explore the relationship between both.

You might wonder: Why write about the process? Isn’t it enough to have found some good sources? It is well documented that students who spend time reflecting upon the progress of their research, next steps, and what they are personally learning about the process, learn more and are better prepared for future research projects.

This piece of writing is an opportunity to reveal explicitly what a final research paper may only imply: the depth of your investigation and the reasoning behind the thoughtful decisions you made along the way. You should approach this writing just as you approach other polished, well-developed pieces in this class: be clear, be specific, be aware of your audience!

I. Research in Google II. Research in Advanced Google Search

i) Research in Google: Select your research topic from within the subjects provided by your professor. Investigate that topic in Google and select one source with some information you would like to cite. Don’t simply grab any site from page one that looks good enough – that isn’t researching, that’s merely searching. Critically read many sites before you select a source for your need.

ii) Reflect on Google: Now discuss the search results you examined in Google, reflecting on the reasons for their placement within Google’s listing. What are some of the limitations of searching in Google? What criteria did you use in order to evaluate and ultimately select the source you chose? Finally, quote a short selection from the site, and cite it with MLA parenthetical documentation using EasyBib.

iii) Perform an Advanced Google Search: Now research the same topic by using some of the Advanced Search techniques you learned. When you have found a second source with good information, investigate the site and analyze its origin, quality, and validity.

iv) Reflect on Advanced Google Search: Now explain how you used the Advanced Search techniques, analyzing the site’s origin, quality, and validity and quoting a short selection from the site, using correct MLA parenthetical documentation. How is this approach more or less effective than using basic Google searches? How did you evaluate which source you chose?

III. Research with Academic Search Engines

i) Research with the Academic Search Engines: Investigate your topic by selecting one Academic Search Engine to find one source that address your topic. Take note of each source’s origin, quality, and validity.

ii) Reflect on Academic Search Engines: Explain how you used the Academic Search Engine and reflect on the questions that follow. How are scholarly articles different from websites? What differences did you find between popular and scholarly sources? How did you choose among the various scholarly sources and find those that best aided you in your research? Finally, quote a short selection from the source(s) you chose using correct MLA parenthetical documentation.

IV. Research with Book Catalog

i) Research with the Book Catalog: Investigate your topic in the Library Catalog and find one print book or electronic book that relates to your topic.

iii) Reflect on Book Search: Explain what you found in the book catalog, how you used the book to read about your research topic (Table of Contexts, Index), and analyze the book’s scope, origin, purpose, quality, and validity. How does the book differ from your other information sources? Quote a short selection from the site, using correct MLA parenthetical documentation.

IV) Overall Reflection and Works Cited

i) Reflect Overall: When examining the different sources you have used in order to research your topic, what was the most valid or compelling research you found? Explain why you have come to your conclusion about the material.

ii) Compile a written Works Cited page in MLA using EasyBib, with a minimum of the 4 sources you found, analyzed, and wrote about in your assignment.


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