Archive for category 3. Reverse the Curse and Do Research

I’m going to teach you how to research and YOU’RE GOING TO LIKE IT!

Research? Research…… Research!!!! Through the wonder of punctuation marks I just introduced you into the world of research which can be confusing (the question mark), cause deep thoughts (the dot dot dot) and be exciting (the exclamation points).  What I am about to present to you is a research guide that was come up by a seasoned college student (myself) that I believe can and will help any high school student who is looking to come into college, grab research by the horns and ride off with it into the sunset.

The first and most basic thing that can help you become a good researcher is the environment you choose to do research in. If you are trying to interpret something you are reading in your room with Jay-Z blasting on the speakers while listening to your roommate tell you all about how special he or she feels about being chosen to rush for a sorority or fraternity, then you are probably not going to grasp the material very well. The best place to go to research is the library where it is quiet and you can concentrate. Also doing it without music on in your headphones would be ideal but depending on the document music will not inhibit you much. If you can listen to music and at the same time feel like your grasping what is being said in the document you are reading then you go right ahead slim. However, if you find yourself getting to the end of a page and thinking “ I have no clue whether I just read about a dog who likes cats or a cat that likes dogs,” then I would consider getting rid of the music. There is also an alternative which can be a nice middle ground between the two, and that is to listen to music without any words. There are two main groups of music without words. There is classical, Sebastian Bach could really play the cello, and instrumentals, for example one of those twenty minute long Grateful Dead songs in which they’re just “really feeling the music man.”

Now that we have your environment all figured out lets move onto the actual research itself. Your college library is probably going to be the best place to find information you need to complete your paper. First of all this is where all the books are but a library is much more than that. It has librarians who are going to be able to help you find what your looking for. All you have to know is your topic, in fact you could probably go up to a librarian not even say hi or anything and just say “cheese puffs” and they will whirl you away to the section in the library where all the books written on cheese puffs are. So we have the physical part of the library but almost all colleges also have online resources as well, which is actually where I look first for information because I do not even have to leave my room or put pants on to look at them. College libraries have extensive online information and once again all you need to know is how to type in your topic to the search bar and many books or articles will come up that you can read online.

Once you have your environment and sources settled now comes the hard and most rewarding part, the reading. The best thing to do when reading is to take notes. The way to do this is when you find something that you think relates to your topic, you write a note down on it that summarizes the points and then explains how it relates to your paper. You also include the page number so it would look like this: (pg. 81) King Henry decapitated another one of his wives, this is further evidence that his unrelenting search for a male heir had driven him crazy. Now your probably not going to have time to read entire books or even entire articles and so a good way to find the information you need in the fastest way possible is to look at the subtitles in books or articles. Subtitles in books can be found in the table of contents or the index and in articles they are normally just part of the actual text. So if your looking for information on the Civil War battle of Gettysburg you do not need to read a whole book on the Civil War. Rather go to the table of contents or index and find a section titled “Battles in the North” which will include the Battle of Gettysburg and by just reading this section you will get the information you need.

So thats my research guide. I hope you enjoyed it and if one day we meet in person I am expecting a very sincere thank you.

Credibility: Establishing yourself as a reliable source by using credible sources

Credibility: Establishing yourself as a reliable source by using credible sources

When writing a paper it is incredibly important to have evidence that comes from reliable sources to support your arguments. Your audience needs to be able to trust in you as an author and believe the information you give them.  A friend once told me that if my hand is bigger than my face I will develop cancer within the next five years. “Where did you hear that?” I asked. She told me it’s what “they say.” But who is they and why should I believe them? These are some of the things to look for when finding credible sources for your paper.

Nowadays a lot of research that students use for papers comes from the internet, and as we all know, the internet cannot lie…at least that’s what “they say.” When using the internet for research, it is important to use reliable websites. Websites such like medical journals, government websites, news sources, and databases and generally good sources of information. Websites that you may not have heard of are probably not in your best interest unless they provide you with a detailed background of the author. The author of the article is incredibly important, and if the author is not provided then that source is more than likely not credible. It is important to look for the date the article was published as well because the information could be out of date or irrelevant.

Because credibility is so important, the Longwood library provides students with a database for credible sources. A student can go online to the Longwood website, click library and type in any key word or phrases that are related to their topic. A list of scholarly journals and articles will appear for the student to choose from. Majority of these sources provide the author or authors and their background- level of knowledge, current job, ect. The date of publication is located on the article along with a list of sources that the article itself uses.

Along with valuable sources, it is important to establish your credibility by showing enthusiasm and organization in your paper.  You must make sure your audience knows that they can relate to you and trust in you as an author and provider of information. If you are not completely familiar with the topic that you are writing on, which does in fact happen in college, this is where credible sources come into play. If these sources are credible they will provide you with the information you need to truly understand your topic and fully relay the information to your audience.

A few things for you to remember about credibility:

  • Find a website with a good background or good reviews
  • Look for an author and a background of the author
  • Publication dates are important to ensure the information is still up to date
  • Look for databases to provide you with scholarly sources on your topic
  • Show enthusiasm and organization when writing a paper

Searching for the Best Sources

Searching for the Best Sources

When doing research for a college style paper, it is very important that you use sources to back up your argument or to have evidence that something is true. And even though there may be a lot of sources that you can turn too, to help your argument, you have to be careful on certain information that you obtain; because not all information is true. That’s why I think that doing research is the most difficult part of writing a college style paper, because as a student you have to be able to distinguish in some cases which information is true or false. Not only that, but you have to pick out what information is best for you argument. For example, in high school, when you did research for a paper, most of the information that you obtained were from encyclopedias, books, and several websites; not to say that those were bad places to get information from but as a Freshman in college you will learn quickly that when doing a college level paper, you will need to use a greater and wider variety of sources. Meaning that you will have to go further in depth with you research and begin to use a variety of databases to locate books, articles, reports and last but not least scholarly  journals.

  • Word of Advice: Using academic journals is the best way to go, when it comes to writing a college style paper. Professor s’ like to see information being obtain from other  professors  or people that may have been there at the time of the event or have done research on that particular topic over the years.  Many college professors also like to see the usage of library sources as well; mainly because they are factual and provide a good amount of evidence that you could possibly use in your paper.

But as I said before, even though there are a lot sources to choose from, its best that you base your paper off of one solid source that may either be of your interest or a topic assigned by your professor; because once you narrow it down too one source that you may agree or disagree with, it will be easier for you to find other information in support or against the argument or issue that is being brought forth. But you have to remember, when looking for other sources to help your argument you have to be careful as I said before. In a since, doing research is like a conversation that you may be having with your friend. For example, let’s say a friend has heard a rumor and they come tell you about it but you don’t think that what they have told you is true. What do you do next? Well me personally I want to know the truth. So then I go to ask someone if they have heard the same thing or do they agree with what my friend has told me. And if the information that I have received if good I will believe it. But see I had to venture out and see if I could find a pattern that gave some clarity on the issue that was brought to my attention. So when doing research just thinks about it as a conversation you want find out the truth, so that you will be able to use your findings for more clarity or to expound upon.

How to Manage your Time Wisely to Do Research

Learning how to manage your time can help you be more productive in what you are doing while keeping your anxiety and stress levels low. However, effective time management can be the hardest thing for us college students to achieve. Leaving work for last minute is called procrastination, and it is definitely one of the main struggles seen in college. Even though I now know the importance of learning how to manage your time in school wisely, I did not know when I first came to college, just like the majority of the other freshmen. The best way to overcome procrastination is by recognizing it and beating it. Do not give in into procrastination, start your work as quick as possible. The sooner you start it, the sooner you will be done with it. This kind of mentality is the mentality that will lead you to success in your class. Every class requires this skill. Especially when writing a paper or an essay. Why is this? Revision is essential for a top-notch written paper.

Normally, you will have to change your paper and make it better preferably about two or three times. Students, YOU WILL NOT ACHIEVE THIS THE NIGHT BEFORE. Be sure to give yourself the appropriate amount of time to revise it carefully. Revision is just one of the reasons why you should start your paper early. When you leave a short amount of time to write a paper, the stress and anxiety will affect you because of the deadlines you are supposed to meet. This can end in a bad result for your paper. Lack of information and important details as well as spelling and grammar mistakes are easy to appear in your paper when you rush through it.

Here are some tips for effective time management in your papers this upcoming year:

  • A schedule is indispensable to have some order in your paper.

When you know what you are going to do next, your ideas will be much more organized.

  • Divide the writing and research work into different parts.

It will be very useful if you have at least some of your information from the research done so that you know exactly what you are writing about.

  • Have a small break in between the time you work.

Mental fatigue will affect your writing. A good break while you are working will help you re-organize your ideas.

  • Proofread your paper at least 2 days before the deadline to turn it in.

Reading your paper various times a day will make you realize the mistakes you have made or the things that you want to change. Asking other students to read it and tell you their opinion on it is also a great way to know what you want to change.

  • Get enough sleep.

In college, procrastination can lead you to reducing your hours of sleep and that will make your brain tired. Good resting of your brain will help you with the ideas you develop for your paper.