Having clear instructions in mind guides your research and saves your time. Let us look into the example of how the instructions affect the research efforts.
For example, you know you have to write a paper on the gun carry, whether it should be restricted or banned on campus. It is quite a clear topic, so you may decide to type it into a search line and start reading a wealth of information on the issue. Having read a lot and, probably, having forgotten what each source said in particular, you come down to writing.Research hints for writing a superb essay
You have done much work, but it does not guarantee success if instructions said somethings like 1 page, at least one source, personal experience. In this case, one source could be the news about the campus shooting and short pros and cons article, and you have read many long and complicated argumentative articles.
In another case, the instructions may tell you to highlight a debate concerning campus carry. In this case, if the general topic search has suggested quite a number of articles in support of gun carry on campus, there is no point in reading them all. Having found two or three nice sources, it is better to make a precise search of the “drawbacks, hazards of campus carry”, or “why gun carry should be banned”.
Alternatively, the instructions may ask to choose a position and write an argumentative paper. In this case, if you support campus carry, concentrate on the arguments in favor of it. Here you have to find various non-repetitive, sustained arguments, so long argumentative articles will be more helpful than short “pros and cons” posts. It is a good strategy to include a counterargument and refute it (e.g. Though the critics of campus carry suggest that …, there is no direct link between …). Still, this means you have to find only one, not a wealth of articles condemning campus carry.
A paper demanding to use peer-reviewed sources might have important topic limitations, e.g. to evaluate the need in campus carry regulations. To write such paper, you will have to study the results of the scholarly research demonstrating there is a link/there is no link between campus carry and campus shootings, the students’ perceptions of security, etc. You may also investigate the price of the policy and, therefore, question its value for money.
Other points of instructions that may guide your search are
- The demand to use peer reviewed sources. Then, it is better to open Google scholar instead of searching scholarly articles in the general list.
- The demand to use up to date sources. This usually relates to sources published within five last years, but in case of politics, for example, it means current year sources.
- The demand to use manuals, course materials only, etc.
Tip: Making a research with the help of the Internet, open each source in a new window, skim it, and CLOSE it if it is not suitable or helpful. It is so easy to count the sources you actually have counting the open windows! No need to ‘open’ too many sources; writing the paper you will have to read all the texts scrupulously, so do not complicate the task and do not confuse yourself.
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