Research Process Old and New

Research has never been my strong suite in the writing world. Well in reality writing never really was either. But it wasn’t until several years into my college education that I started to get good at researching.  Before when I was in high school and my earlier years in college I would just choose any website that would help me get the job done. I never took the time to look carefully at the website and see how credible it was. I didn’t think to ask questions in regards to where the information from these websites were coming from. As Jim Cullen writes on page 31 of his book Essaying the Past , “Good students have answers; great ones have questions”. I honestly think that is one of the main reasons I became a better researcher. Research is in many fields, not just writing, I use research in my scientific studies all the time. Being a scientist I have to question things on a daily basis, it has taught be to be very inquisitive about life. Without research we could not come up with a hypothesis to base our experiment on. Research is very important in a lot of aspects, writing, science, history, fact checking, investigating, etc. You have to be able to know how to research properly though in order to make sure you are researching accurately.
Most of my research now, is usually done for scientific and medical purposes. When doing research for the topics I have at hand, my first go to is scholarly journals or articles. The reason being, is these tend to be less biased and have already done a lot of research and referencing themselves. After I am done searching for scholarly journals/articles, I then move towards websites. I don’t however just go to any website that pops up on google. Before trusting any information provided on that website I look for their publishers, and that date it was last published.  This gives me a sense of how up to date and trustworthy the information is. Cullen puts it in great perspective on why you need to be careful with using the internet as a source. On page 38 of his book Essaying the Past he writes , “
Using the Internet for academic work is a little like eating fast food: It’s undeniably convenient and cheap, but it’s not good for you (something you can sometimes tell pretty quickly). You’ve got to be willing to do a little exercise, mental and even physical.” This rings so much truth, while the internet might be easy, it might not always be a good source to use when doing research. You have to be careful and take the necessary steps to make sure it is a reputable site.

Being a student at a college campus has major benefits! Part of our tuition allows us to have access to an abundance of resources, scholarly or not. So when I start my research GMU’s online library is where I go! This is usually where I find at least 5-10 resources for my research. I try to find at least 15 resources for each research project I am doing. The reason being is because this helps he have enough information to write on. It also has be preaccessed to all that information so that I don’t have to go searching for more if I don’t have enough. So if you ever want to look for some reputable sources for your research papers, blog post, etc that would be the first place I would check out if I were you. Best thing of all, most of their archives are online, so you don’t even have to go to the library itself. “That said, it’s hopeless to expect you won’t start with the materials closest at hand, and that almost inevitably will be the Internet connection on your computer.” (Collen, 38)

With anything there is always room to grow. I think I can still learn to find better resources and narrow down topics when looking up scholarly sources. To improve my researching I can always learn how to narrow down my questions and make them better. You can also never as too many questions about a source. If you are uncertain, and don’t find the answer, DON’T USE IT!

Cullen, Chapter 4
Cullen, Chapter 5

One Comment

  • Joanne Carter

    This is a great approach to locating research sources online. I also tend to reviewing many sources before selecting the “go to” ones that will end up being cited and referenced in my final document. Having enough information to make comparison points is always a good thing. I also agree that internet searches can be unreliable. However, I do use them to identify key words that can be used to further the research of other sources. I also use the GMU database to access articles relevant to my topic because they are reliable and easily accessible online.

    Thanks for the additional tips on finding research sources.

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