The Research Process
Print this handout and then reference it while you view the:
First things first
Decide on your topic.
Make your decision based on topics covered in the previous course readings, or choose a few of your own topic (subject to approval by your teacher).
One strategy is to assemble your course materials and decide on the best topic at the library, while engaged in the research process.
Plan your library trip.
Bring all the course readings, and have three possible topics of your own choosing in mind.
You donít want to pursue a topic over which little scholarship has been written, nor do you want a topic if OSU holdings are sparse.
Begin with a broad sweep.
The Broad Sweep
Choose 3 possible topics.
If a course reading has something to do with bison, then brainstorm keywords about the topic and the argument
For example: bison; conservation; buffalo, etc.
Do a search using different keywords and determine how many articles & books are available on the topic.
Repeat this process for all 3 possible topics and make an informed decision on what you will ultimately choose.
Once you have made your decision, stick with it.
Research is a time-consuming process, and although switching topics is sometimes necessary, it also wastes valuable time.
Once youíve decided, then itís time to pull articles and mine bibliographies.
The bibliography pages of a book or article are a gold mine of resources.
If an article you have pulled speaks to your topic, then chances are that the author cites articles that speak to your topic as well.
Read the titles of articles on the bibliography page and decide which ones seem relevant to your topic.
Search for them and see if they are available.
Those articles too have bibliographies. And so onÖAnd so onÖ
Also, pay attention to the names of the authors. Are you seeing the same names on the bibliography pages of different articles?
If so, you have just discovered who the heavy hitters are.
The Heavy Hitters
The heavy hitters are the scholars who are widely recognized as experts on your topic.
What does it say about the level of scholarship and research that you generate if you do not include the most prestigious experts in your field of study?
It says that your research is weak.
Once you know the heavy hitters, then do a search for articles by that author.
Print out that list and search OSU availability for those articles.
Donít be too heavy-handed about including heavy hitters. One or two articles is enough.
You want to make sure your research demonstrates diversity too.
Diversity of Research
Make sure you present opposing arguments.
Not all scholars agree, or there would be no debate.
Try and include one or two scholars who disagree with you, then refute their argument with your own argument and with the arguments of scholars in your camp.
Bringing it all together
Remember that if you need, for example, 10 sources, then you should start with about 20.
Doing so allows you to choose the best articles in terms of the scholarship, and in terms of how well they relate to your own argument.
And use current research.
The best research demonstrates an awareness of the current conversation among scholars.
While a 10 year old article may be very informative, it is also true that since that time the debate has taken new directions.
The best procedure is to stay with articles no more than three to five years old.
Plan your library trip.
Use a broad sweep.
Discover the heavy hitters.
Diversity of articles.
Use current research.
Work smart by starting early.