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Research Papers for Dummies


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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

Geraldine Woods is the author of more than 40 books, including the popular English Grammar For Dummies. She has taught high school and middle school English for over 25 years.

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