Traditional Research Techniques for Your Research Paper
So when you start doing a research paper, you need to know a few things first: how to develop an appropriate topic for your paper from the general subject assigned by your teacher and how to develop a working hypothesis to examine in your paper. Also you should know some of the basics of research including the resources available at the library, the kinds of reference works you need to be familiar with, and how to create a preliminary bibliography which is the first step in doing in-depth research.
In this article we will show you how to do a deeper dive into research sources, how to find materials both offline and on the Internet that can help you becoming expert on the topic of your paper.
Traditional research techniques make use of offline resources, most of which can be found at either your local or school library. They include the librarian, a trained professional who can be amazingly helpful to you in focusing on most useful and appropriate research materials, catalogs of various kinds which are like guides to the contents of the library, and various kinds of reference books, from dictionaries тв encyclopedias to gazetteers, chronologies, and books of quotations.
Plan on spending at least a day or two working at the library and delving into the resources available there. Particularly on early phases of research project you want to focus on how sources lead to sources.
Start by studying the books or articles in your preliminary bibliography. The first book on the list will probably contain references to other books, as well as footnotes and a bibliography. Look closely at these, especially when they appear to relate to the specific topic you’re writing about.
When you spot the name of a book of an article that looks helpful, write down all the bibliographic information. That means author, the title and subtitle, date and place of publication, the publisher, and the name of the magazine or journal, if relevant. These listings become part of your expanded bibliography, the sources that you want to turn to next, and each of these books, articles or other sources will contain further references that may be useful.
After a day or two of following links in this way, you may find that the same books, articles or authors are mentioned repeatedly. This is a strong clue that these sources are well known, widely studied, and either authoritative, or significant and controversial.
Either way, you should find those landmark works and get to know them, that’s a part of becoming an expert in any particular field. You’ll also find the same works, journals or magazines mentioned repeatedly when you work in a particular field, and you’ll need to get to know these as well.
For example, suppose you’re doing a research in the world of music. The Music Index, which lists articles published in music journals, the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and the New Grove Dictionary of Opera are some of the basic sources that everyone needs to know to work in that field. If you’re working in the field of literature, you want to be familiar with the MLA Bibliography, which is compiled by the Modern Language Association that lists writing dealing with literature and all modern languages, as well as reference works such as the Dictionary of Literary Biography and the Oxford Companion to English Literature.
So whatever field you’re working in, you need to become familiar with the basic reference works as well as indexes and catalogs that are available in your field – that’s part of becoming conversant in material in a particular topic.