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RHET-103 College Writing

Spring 2018

Steps in Researching your topics

General steps in the process of doing library research:

  • Identify a topic of interest
  • Do a little bit of background reading on the topic (Wikipedia is a good tool for this)
  • Refine your topic to a manageable argument if it's too broad a topic
  • Identify keywords that you can use later on in a search. These include: events, people, places, ideas
  • Find a book or two that gives you a larger overview of the topic
  • In searching for Journal Articles and Newspapers, select the database that is most appropriate for your topic area
  • Try a wide range of search terms to locate information. Rarely is there ever a perfect search
  • Ask for help if you get stuck at any place in the research process
  • Talk with your professor, your fellow students or make an appointment with me if you have any questions

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

  • Primary sources are produced by participants in a specific event or time period, or witnesses to an event or period in history.  The event or experience may have happened centuries ago or seconds ago. Examples are letters, diaries, official government records, artifacts, contemporary newspaper articles, interviews, original photographs, memoirs and autobiographies

  • Secondary sources are typically books and articles written about a topic, by a non-participant in an historical event or time period. Authors of these works utilize evidence to formulate a thesis and develop a conclusion based on this evidence, which often are primary sources

Searching TIP: Many primary sources can be found within the bibliographies and notes in secondary sources.

If you are unsure about a source, check with your professor or a research librarian to determine whether it can be considered primary or secondary.

Writing Center Help

The Writing Center at 115 Vernon Street provides assistance with writing assignments from getting started on assignments to revising drafts.

Check out their website to see what services are offered and to set up an appointment.