Getting Started: Information Research Tips

Introductory help in learning how to identify, locate, evaluate, and use information effectively and ethically for research assignments.

Research Paper Planner

A 6-week summer session, a 10-week quarter, and even a semester can seem short, so save time!

[The schedule below assumes you will receive your assignment in Week 1 or Week 2. Check with your instructor or your librarian for advice on adjusting this schedule if you get your assignment after Week 2.]

Step 1: Get Started

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 1-2 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 1

  • Read and understand the assignment
  • Ask your instructor if you need clarification

STEP 2: Pick and focus your topic; write a hypothesis or argument

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 2-3 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 2

  • Choose a topic
  • Brainstorm topic search words
  • Narrow or broaden your topic

STEP 3: Design research strategy and choose useful information sources

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 2-3 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 2

  • Check the flow of information
  • Select an appropriate type of information source

Step 4: Use encyclopedias to get a topic overview

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 4-5 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 3

Step 5: Find useful books

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 4-5 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 3

STEP 6: Find useful periodical (magazine, journal, newspaper) articles

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 4-7 / Summer Session (6-week): Weeks 3 -4

STEP 7: Find authoritative, accurate, complete, and up to date web sites

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 4-7 / Summer Session (6-week): Weeks 4-5

STEP 8: Outline paper

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 5-7 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 4

STEP 9: Analyze, compare, and contrast the evidence, come to your own conclusions, and write first draft

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 7-9 / Summer Session (6-week): Weeks 4-5

STEP 10: Conduct additional research, if necessary

WHEN? During any term, periodically reevaluate, and repeat Steps 4-7, as needed

STEP 11: Revise and rewrite

WHEN? Quarter: Weeks 8-9 / Summer Session (6-week): Weeks 5-6

STEP 12: Put paper in final form

WHEN? Quarter: Week 10 / Summer Session (6-week): Week 6

Why do I need to cite?

  • To provide evidence to support your argument
  • So that others can locate your research evidence, review it, and form their own opinions about …
    • whether or not your conclusions are correct
    • whether or not you considered the most important evidence in your research area

Select the citation style you want to use. See Citing & Writing for links to examples.