- Choose a topic. Often times this will start as a question. So for example, “is there a correlation between rates of media consumption and eating disorders?” Or, “what reduces the likelihood that somebody will return to prison?” Or, “does hiring discrimination exist in academia?” If you don’t already have a burning question, another way to start is to think of a general topic that interests you. For example, your topic could be “student loan debt.” And then from there, you can think of a question (i.e. “who is more or less likely to have a lot of student loan debt?” “Are people with certain majors more or less likely to pay back their student loan debt?” “Are certain races, ethnicity or genders more or less likely to accumulate / repay student loan debt?”).
2. Choose TWO peer reviewed journal articles. Trust me, if you aren’t careful about selecting your journal articles, you will struggle with writing your paper. And your paper will not be as good. So choose your journal articles wisely. When you are on the Lib Guide, go to the “Find Articles” link. Pick a database (i.e. Academic Search Premier). Then limit your search to peer reviewed articles.
3. Start your references section. The references section is what lists your sources at the end of the paper. This is different from the in-text citations that you have been focusing on so far. You must list every source that you use (and you are only required to use two peer reviewed journal articles… anything else is extra, but not required). In formatting your references, do NOT use a computer program for auto-formatting. It never works well, and you will lose points.
Be sure to save your peer-reviewed journal articles as PDF’s so that you can access them easily later. Read them the week before you start writing your paper.
After you have completed your research paper prep by creating a statement of inquiry, locating 2 relevant peer reviewed journal articles, and starting your references section, here is a list of what to do next…
Your statement of inquiry (your research topic/question). This means that you need to go through your textbook and think about what topic interests you the most. What do you want to learn more about?
– Read the two articles that you selected. Every peer reviewed article follows the same basic blueprint regarding formatting. They start with an abstract where they tell you their research question and a little about their methods and findings. Then they have an introduction, where they talk about the prior research that other people have done about this subject. This is such an important part of the article because it gives you all of the background information that you need to understand the bigger picture. Then they talk about their methods (which you should read, but not dwell on every word). Lastly, they talk about their findings. And then the conclude it all by reviewing everything they just said. Peer review articles are redundant and they use big words. But once you figure out the blueprint, you will be able to understand the article’s main points pretty quickly.
As you are reading the articles, take notes on the following:
Main points from previous research (see intro – or sometimes it is called a “literature review”).
The primary research questions that these folks were trying to answer (see intro).
How did they answer it? (see methods)
What were their findings? (see findings – or sometimes it is called “results”)
– Write your paper using the proper format (see attached for printout of assignment details).