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BIO 1A - Botany

Getting Started

Research projects can be intimidating, but it helps to have a plan of action in place.  Breaking it down by steps, even if you go back and forth between the steps a few times, can make the process seem much less overwhelming.  

To the right is a basic list of the steps involved in a general research project or paper.  Click on the steps to get some brief information about what that step entails.

The Research Process

Before starting an assignment, make sure that you have read it through completely and asked your professor for clarification on any parts that may be confusing.  Create a "plan of action" or "To Do" list with dates to make the assignment less overwhelming.

A good topic is….

  • Interesting to you.
  • Explainable in 3 - 4 words (more than just one variable).
  • Controversial or problematic (i.e. addresses a social issue).
  • Appropriately sized for your assignment.
  • In-line with the assignment guidelines.

If you are having trouble thinking of a topic for your project, the databases, Opposing Viewpoints or CQ Researcher can be a great resources, since they cover current issues. Hint: If your topic is listed in Opposing Viewpoints or CQ Researcher it can be a good resource to use, since it meets the CRAAP criteria (See "Evaluating Materials" below).

Developing a research question can make the research process more efficient, by providing a direction for your project.

A good research question...

  • Has at least one variable.
  • Is open-ended.
  • Is not too broad or too narrow for the assignment.
  • Is one that you think you will find enough information to answer.
  • In-line with the assignment guidelines.

Use materials to learn about a topic and to write or present about the topic. Use materials in your writing by citing directly using quotation marks, paraphrasing sentences or paragraphs; or by summarizing the entire item. Always make sure to use an in-text citation after each quote, paraphrase, or summary of an item, then have the full citation for the item you used in your Bibliography to avoid plagiarism.

Examples of resources:

  • Peer Reviewed Articles - find using periodical databases
  • Scholarly Articles - find using periodical databases
  • Books - find using the library catalog
  • Reference - Find using ereference databases and library catalog
  • Psychology videos/educational DVDs - Find using video databases
  • Credible websites - Find using Google

Evaluate each resource that you come across, including websites, by asking the following questions:

Current?  Is this current to my topic?

Relevant? How does this help me with my topic?

Accurate?  Does the author or entity support their statements with data or citations?

Authority?  Is the author or entity an expert and qualified to write on this topic?

Purpose?  Is this item written for the general public or for scholarly reasons?

This is where you combine your own ideas with what you have learned from the resources/materials you found on your topic to tell the story of the issue or topic.  A great way to start this step is to create an outline, using the information you gathered from the resources, of what you would like to write about or present on the topic.  

A great resource for students having trouble writing, is our on-campus Tutorial Center.

You must cite the sources that you use to avoid plagiarism. All direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries must be cited. In other words, all ideas or facts taken from some other writer, even though in your own words, must be cited. All creative works are copyrighted material, so it is PLAGIARISM if you use ideas from a resource without citing that resource

For each source collect…

  1. Author(s) and/or Editor(s).
  2. Date of publication.
  3. Article title.
  4. Publication Title (title of overall item that the article or item was published within).
  5. Publication information; including, edition, volume, pages, place, & publisher.
  6. URL or database name (if found online).

*Not all sources will have all of these elements & some sources may need additional elements, but this should be enough to get you started in Noodletools or to at least be able to track down your source.

View our Citation Help Library Guide for more information on citing and the different styles