Research Guide

Are you writing a research paper or creating a research project? This page will help you to understand the research process, organize your work, create an outline for your topic, format your paper and cite your sources using MLA format. You must document your research by citing your sources. Citing authoritative experts will give your work more credibility and it will give credit to others for their hard work and ideas. Failing to cite your sources is a leading cause of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of taking the ideas of others and passing them off as your own. This is an unethical use of information.

Please see our Internet and Computer Use Policy and Plagiarism Policy. Reviewing the Citing Sources with MLA will also help.

Most of the sheets that are located on our circulation desk are here for you to download.

Understanding the Research Process with the Big 6

The Big 6 is a Step by Step Guide.  The Big 6 is a model of how people solve an information problem.  There are six stages in the process with two sub-stages under each.  To learn more about the Big 6 model and information literacy skills click the link below.

Big 6

Choose the Best Sources & Evaluate Them Carefully

  • Books
  • Journals
  • Databases
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • DVD’s, Videos, and Broadcasts

Links to our databases are located on the Library Databases page of this website. Passwords and user names are available in the library.

 Databases are excellent sources because they:

  • get their information from experts in the field;
  • contain published works where facts are checked;
  • are easy to cite and usually generate the citation for you;
  • help you narrow down your topic or suggest related subjects; and
  • are updated frequently and include the date of publication.

Websites

There are many good websites and many websites that are not good sources of information for your research papers. Here is a Website Evaluation Guide that will help you to effectively evaluate the quality of information in a website.

Organize Your Work

Get Organized! You will save a lot of time when citing sources if you record the publication information as you are proceeding through your research.  Below is a graphic organizer that you can print to help you.

Tip: When taking notes in MS Word, paste the website addresses (URLs) next to the notes that you have taken for each website so that you can find the website again when you need to cite it.

Create an Outline

Creating an outline will help you to develop your paper or project in a logical manner, organize information and your ideas that you want to present, show relationships between subtopics, and it will help you to define the scope of your research.  Perdue University’s writing lab is a good website to learn more about how and why it is important to create an outline.

Here is a link to an award winning Web based outline generator. It will guide you through the process of creating an outline.  Just fill in the blank spaces and click on the “Create Outline” button.  It is so easy to use!

Formatting Your MLA Paper

Cite Your Sources

It is important to document your research by citing your sources.  Citing authoritative experts will give your work more credibility and it will give credit to others for their hard work and ideas.  Failing to cite your sources is a leading cause of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of taking the ideas of others and passing them off as your own.  You will need to cite direct quotes, paraphrases, summaries, images and creative works, maps, charts and statistical data.

You will cite your sources in the text of your paper (see In-Text or Parenthetical Citations Explained) and on your works cited page.  The works cited page is placed at the end of your paper. Begin the works cited on a new page using 1″ margins and double spacing.

The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is an authoritative guide on MLA style. A copy is located in our library. The call number is 808.02 MLA.

(Call Number 808.02 MLA)

Remember to critically examine the quality of your work.  Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your project and the process you followed prior to handing off work. Consider ways to improve the process next time you complete a research assignment.

 

Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

~Jim Rohn