Research today is a skill that is taught to students as part of information literacy units; however, I don’t think students understand the difference between “Googling” a topic and researching it. Yes, a lot of information is publicly available, however; a lot of peer-reviewed research, published in academic journals, is not. Writing a research paper used to involve going (yes a verb) to the library, researching a topic, taking notes from resources you were usually not able to sign out of the library and then assembling those notes into a coherent paper, with an argument, and proper citations.
Writing research papers today is still easier than it used to be. Most schools subscribe to electronic databases students can access online. We need to teach students how to do research electronically and how to avoid copy and paste disasters. Educators should stop accepting the excuse that students don’t understand in-text citations; letting students off if they have a reference page.
Great resource from Purdue Online Writing Lab on Writing a Research Paper
- Genre– This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
- Choosing a Topic– This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses themselves.
- Identifying an Audience– This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
- Where Do I Begin– This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.
The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison also has a great resource on the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper.