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Research Papers For Dummies (0764554263) cover image

Research Papers For Dummies

ISBN: 978-0-7645-5426-1
360 pages
July 2002
US $16.99 Add to Cart

Introduction 1

How to Use This Book 1

What You’re Not to Read 2

Foolish Assumptions 3

How This Book is Organized 3

Part I: Figuring Out What You are Writing and How to Write it 3

Part II: Finding Everything about Anything: Research 4

Part III: Collecting Pearls of Wisdom: How to Take Notes 4

Part IV: More Than Sharpening Pencils: Preparing to Write 4

Part V: Turn on the Computer, Fill the Fountain Pen: It’s Time to Write 5

Part VI: The Part of Tens 5

Appendix 5

Bonus Web Chapter 5

Icons Used in This Book 5

Where to Go from Here 6

Part I: Figuring Out What You are Writing and How to Write it 7

Chapter 1: Running a Marathon in Sandals, or Writing a Research Paper 9

Writing Research Papers is for Your Own Good, Honest 9

Cooking Up a Research Paper: The Basic Ingredients 11

The introduction 11

The body 11

The conclusion 12

Footnotes, endnotes, and parenthetical citations 12

Title page and front matter 12

Works cited or bibliography 13

Meeting the Family: Characteristics of Each Type of Research Paper 13

Report 13

Laboratory report 14

Science research paper 15

Term (or library) paper 16

Thesis 17

Dissertation 18

Business report 19

Business plan 20

Climbing the Steps to Successful Research Papers 21

Chapter 2: Getting on the Right Track: Tips for Saving Time and Effort 23

Making a Long Story Short 23

Recording your life as a researcher 24

Taking the research paper one step at a time 25

Timing is Everything 27

I’ve got all the time in the world: The ten-week plan 28

I can take my time: The five-week plan 28

I’m in a hurry but not in a panic: The two-week plan 29

It’s due tomorrow! 30

Finding a Method That Suits Your Madness 31

Choosing a topic 31

Taking notes 31

Writing 32

Discovering a Method That Suits Your Authority Figure’s Madness 32

Asking the right questions 33

Using realism as a tactic 35

Chapter 3: What Am I Writing About? 37

Defining Terms: Subject, Topic, and Thesis 38

Subject 38

Topic 38

Thesis 39

Selecting a Subject for Your Paper: The Subject of Your Affection 40

When the choice is yours 40

When you’ve got no choice 42

Attending to the Topic of Topics 43

What information is available? 43

What structure will I use? 44

Is there anything left to write? 45

Moving from a Topic to a Thesis 45

Getting an idea 45

Developing the idea 46

Creating the thesis statement 46

Surveying the Territory: When Your Paper Doesn’t Need a Thesis 46

Part II: Finding Everything about Anything: Research 49

Chapter 4: Casting a Wide Net: Choosing Sources for Your Paper 51

Sourcing Your Paper: How Many and What Kinds Do You Need? 51

Stalking the Wild Source: A Field Guide 53

Books 53

Magazine and journal articles 54

Newspapers 55

Pamphlets and newsletters 56

Published research papers 58

Electronic sources 58

Real people 63

Audio-visual sources 64

Firsthand collection of data 64

Distrusting What You Find: A Guide to Evaluating Sources 65

Check the publisher 66

Check the date 66

Check the author 66

Check the organization 67

Check the language 67

Chapter 5: Surfing Safari: Researching Online 69

Creating an Effective Search 69

Simple searches 70

Advanced searches 71

Taking You Where You Want to Go: Search Engines and Subject Catalogues 74

Traveling Express: Metasearch Engines 75

Searching Online Databases 76

LexisNexis and Westlaw 76

Dialog 76

Dow Jones Interactive 77

OCLC FirstSearch 77

ProQuest, EBSCO, and InfoTrak 77

Other helpful online databases 77

Finding the Best of the Internet: Good Spots to Begin Your Research 78

General reference sites 78

Government sites 79

Literature and language 79

Science and math 80

Geography, history, politics, and social science 80

Business and economics 81

Arts 81

Current events 81

Drowning in Information? How to Swim to Shore 82

Chapter 6: Working from Traditional Sources 83

Researching from Library Books 84

Checking the catalogue 84

Gathering search terms 87

Locating the best reference books 88

Finding Books in Bookstores 92

Locating Newspaper and Magazine Articles 92

Making do with microform 93

Sorting through CDs 93

Investigating indexes 93

Searching online databases and bibliographies 94

Panning for Gold in the Pamphlet File 94

Finding Audio-Visual Sources: You Oughta Be in Pictures 95

Associating with Experts 96

Examining George Washington’s Letters: Researching from Special Collections 97

Chapter 7: Real Live People: Interviewing Techniques 99

Finding Interview Subjects: Where the People are 99

Getting the Interview 101

Preparing for the Interview 102

Conducting the Interview 103

Keeping the interview running smoothly 103

Saving it for posterity: Tape or notepad? 105

Using a tape recorder 105

Working with a notebook 106

You’ve got interview: The e-mail connection 107

Cleaning Up: Changing Real Speech into Readable Quotations 108

Part III: Collecting Pearls of Wisdom: How to Take Notes 111

Chapter 8: One Size Does Not Fit All: Note-Taking Methods 113

Carding — the Old System 113

Note Taking on the Computer 116

Can’t We All Get Along? Combining Note Cards and Computers 118

Highlighting and Indexing 120

Indexing Audio-Visual Sources 121

Documenting Your Sources 122

Books 123

Magazine, journal, and newspaper articles 123

Pamphlets and unpublished documents 123

Electronic sources 124

Audio-visual sources 124

Special cases 125

Chapter 9: Note Taking: What to Write, What to Skip 127

Surveying the Field: Preliminary Notes 127

Note Taking with Focus 129

The preliminary stage 131

Zeroing in on a topic 131

When you have a thesis statement 132

Avoiding Common Pitfalls: Too Many, Too Few, and Repetitive Notes 133

Overwriters and repeaters 134

Underwriters 134

N Tkg W/ Abbr. 135

Common words 136

Personalized abbreviations 137

Taking Proper Notes: An Example 137

Chapter 10: Staying on the Right Side of the Law 141

Avoiding Plagiarism for Fun and Profit 141

Quote Unquote 142

Deciding When to Cite Sources 145

Ideas 145

Train of thought 147

Unique phrases 148

Structure 149

Facts 150

Illustrations 151

Seeing What You Don’t Have to Cite 152

Common knowledge 152

Your own ideas 153

Your Authority Figure’s ideas 153

Following the Golden Rule of Citations 154

Staying on the Right Side of the Copyright Law 154

Part IV: More Than Sharpening Pencils: Preparing to Write 157

Chapter 11: Forming a Thesis Statement 159

Laying a Firm Foundation for Your Paper 159

Forming a Thesis and Writing a Thesis Statement 161

Ask questions 161

If only 162

I recommend 163

Relationships 163

Avoiding Potholes: Too Broad, Too Narrow, or Self-Evident Theses 164

Too broad 165

Too narrow 166

Self-evident 167

Examining Quality Thesis Statements 168

Forming a Topic Sentence 169

Choosing a Title 170

Chapter 12: Choosing a Structure for Your Paper 173

Marrying Form and Content: The Right Structure with the Right Thesis 173

Considering the Options: Structures for Every Occasion 175

Chronological order 175

Comparison and contrast 176

Cause and effect 178

Pro and con 179

Interest groups 180

Hypothesis, test, and results 182

Organizing a Paper That Doesn’t Have a Thesis 183

Personalizing a Structural Framework 185

Chapter 13: Organizing the Information: Subtopics 187

Mining Research Notes for Subtopics 187

Matching Subtopics to Structure 189

Chronological order — time periods or stages 189

Comparison and contrast — paired elements and their characteristics 190

Cause and effect — actions and reactions 191

Pro and con — opposite sides of an issue 193

Interest groups — various viewpoints on one issue 194

Hypothesis, test, results — “I wonder   ” and proof 194

Sorting Notes: Placing the Right Idea in the Right Basket 195

Chapter 14: The Battle Plan: Constructing an Outline 197

Drawing Up a Battle Plan: Why Outlines are Necessary 198

Indenting by the Rules: How to Format an Outline 199

Turning Notes into an Outline: A Practical Guide 204

Index cards 205

Computer files 205

Notebook 206

Checking the Logical Path 207

Part V: Turn on the Computer, Fill the Fountain Pen: It’s Time to Write 209

Chapter 15: Allow Me to Introduce Myself: Writing an Effective Introduction 211

Setting Your Reader on the Right Path: What an Introduction Accomplishes 212

Creating and Placing the Essential Elements of the Introduction 213

The topic 213

Thesis statement 214

Thesis statement at the beginning 214

Topic sentence 216

The hook 217

Subtopics 220

Steering Clear of Vague Introductions 221

Writing Introductions for Science and Business Research Papers 223

Chapter 16: The Body of Evidence 227

Putting Meat on the Bones: Writing the Body of the Paper 227

Method 228

Style 229

Defining Paragraphs and Writing Topic Sentences 230

Staying on Topic: The Tuna Fish Defense 232

Connecting the Dots: Moving from One Subtopic to Another 233

Subheads 234

Transitions 234

Presenting Evidence and Relating it to a Thesis 237

Inserting Quotations 239

When to insert a quotation 239

How to insert a quotation 240

One Picture is Worth    242

Answering Objections in Advance: Concession and Reply 243

Chapter 17: And in Conclusion 245

Summarizing versus Concluding: How to Tell the Difference 245

Packing the Essentials: What the Conclusion Must Contain 247

Thesis reference 247

Expanded idea 248

Dramatic last punch 251

Subtopics 252

Getting It Together: How to Combine the Essential Elements of a Conclusion 252

Concluding a Survey Paper 254

Concluding Science Research Papers 255

Chapter 18: The Picky Stuff: Citing Sources   257

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Documenting Sources 257

Citations in the text 258

Source list 260

Meeting the Major Players in the Citation Game 261

APA style 262

MLA style 265

Chicago Manual of Style 269

Chapter 19: It’s a Breeze: The Final Draft 273

Polishing is Not Just for Shoes 273

Styling Your Sentences 274

Fixing Grammar Gremlins 276

Verbs 276

Pronouns 277

Punctuation 281

Other grammar errors 282

Capital letters 283

Putting it All Together 284

Chapter 20: Solving Special Problems 287

Adjusting Length: The Long and the Short of it 287

Shortening a long paper 288

Lengthening a short paper 289

Overcoming Writer’s Block 290

Surviving Research Disasters 291

Disaster #1: Missing source 291

Disaster #2: Contradictory information 292

Disaster #3: Duplicate ideas 293

Part VI: The Part of Tens 295

Chapter 21: The Ten Best Ways to Start Electronic Research 297

Designing a Search 297

Revving Up a Search Engine 297

Taxing Government Resources 298

Hitting the Library 298

Hitting the Other Library 298

Checking Your FAQs 298

Getting Down to Business 299

Reading the Paper 299

Opening Up a Subject Catalogue 299

Finding People 299

Chapter 22: The Ten Best Ways to Start Traditional Research 301

Asking the Boss 301

Asking the Librarian 301

Opening the Catalogue 302

Referring to Reference Books 302

Checking the Children’s Section 302

Reading the Reader’s Guide 302

Noting the News 303

Perusing the Pamphlet File 303

Browsing Bowker’s 303

Going Shopping 303

Appendix 305

Arts 305

Arts Topics for Younger Writers 306

History 307

History Topics for Younger Writers 308

Literature and Language 309

Literature Topics for Younger Writers 311

Science, Mathematics, and Technology 311

Science, Mathematics, and Technology Topics for Younger Writers 312

Social Science and Psychology 313

Social Science and Psychology Topics for Younger Writers 314

Interdisciplinary Ideas 315

Interdisciplinary Ideas for Younger Writers 317

Index 319

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