24 Introduction to Research
Systematic investigation or inquiry aimed at contributing to knowledge of a theory, topic, etc., by careful consideration, observation, or study of a subject. In later use also: original critical or scientific investigation carried out under the auspices of an academic or other institution. Occasionally with of; now frequently with into, on.
Understanding the Different Purposes of Research
- to broaden your knowledge about a subject, topic, issue, controversy
- to find questions that you can provide new answers to on the subject, topic, issue, controversy
- to find arguments for and against a claim you want to make about a subject, topic, issue, controversy
In other words, you are continually becoming more knowledgeable to make a greater contribution to the conversation you are joining.
Understanding the Different Types of Research
- Online sources for both popular and scholarly information
- Print sources for both popular and scholarly information
- Field work with your own experiments, interviews, surveys, questionnaires
As a college student at CSU-Pueblo, you will be conducting a good deal of your research online using the many excellent resources that the university’s library offers–and that you have paid for through your tuition fees. The library also has many books, periodicals (magazines and newspapers), government documents, and if the library doesn’t possess a specific print source, the chances are high that it can still get it for you from another library, a service called ILL (interlibrary loan). As for fieldwork, some of your professors might require that you “go into the field“ and conduct your own experiments, interviews, surveys, or questionnaires to gather new results. Whether you are working with online or print sources or conducting your own work, you are still achieving the purposes outlined above so that you can improve your contribution to the academic conversation you have joined in.
- Internet search engines
- CSUP library catalogue and databases (SuperSearch)
- Google Scholar
- Reference works and Wikipedia
- Government sites
- News organizations
- Print media
Most of you likely use Google to search information, but Google is not the only search engine you should use. Check out others like Bing, Yahoo!, Ask, Aol Search, DuckDuckGo, WolframAlpha, WebCrawler, search, dogpile, ixquick, excite, or Info.
Navigating and Evaluating Sources
- Finding claims
- Finding evidence to support claims and warrants to see the connection between the claims and the evidence used to support those claims
- Determining purpose and audience as well as currency (date of publication)
- Determining sponsorship
- Finding fallacies
- Understanding structure (organization) and length
- Analyzing language and style
Authors always make claims, and for purposes of academic argument, those claims are always arguable; that means that other authors can take issue with a claim to show that it is wrong or at least partly wrong. This is because academic authors produce their scholarship to advance our knowledge on a topic or issue, knowing that that new angle on the knowledge is always open to challenge, refutation, and rebuttal, but these are the means we have to progress as a society. So where are those claims? Once you have found a source, read first the introduction, then the conclusion, and finally the first sentence of each of the remaining paragraphs. You should see patterns in the author’s argument that help you decide what central position the author is making. Wherever a point is made in different wording you can be pretty sure that is a major claim.
- Understanding disciplines, genres, and conventions
- Keeping track of sources
- Understanding the differences among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries
- Integrating quotations, paraphrases, and summaries
Once you have found a source that you feel is a good fit for your own argument, you must know how the specific discipline you are writing the argument in uses genres and conventions. Disciplines are the subject areas that you can study in college like English, psychology, history. Genres are the specific types of writing that you produce like essays, blogs, research papers, reports. Conventions are the standards you are expected to follow in a discipline. For example, English majors usually follow MLA style, psychology majors APA style, or history majors Chicago style. These styles require certain formats and ways to document sources.
- See the "Integrating Source Material" and "MLA Documentation" Chapter later in this section. ↵