Section Three






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The advent of the internet has led people to think that conducting research is fast-paced fun rather than hard work. By their accounting, you simply type the magic words – a succinct description of the topic you are researching - into the search box of a search engine such as “Yahoo” ( or Google (

And then after you have been waiting an “incredibly short period of time,” links to information about that topic will instantaneously come popping up on your computer monitor. If it is not magic, it is the nearest possible thing to it.

This line of reasoning, however, overlooks one essential fact. Search engines rely upon algorithms – mathematical formulas - not upon strict quality control, when they determine what resources they will list and the order in which they will list them. Consequently, a post might enjoy a high listing even if it not necessarily credible; people employ search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure their articles/ websites receive that recognition.

So, you have to do your own due diligence, being certain any (online) material you use in writing your paper remains credible by asking these questions, among others: What are the credentials of the person who wrote this article? Is the organization that posted it a reliable source of information?

This YouTube video will present you with guidelines that will help you to separate reliable material from that of lower quality.

"How to Conduct Effective Research: A Key Process for Students in    Writing." youtube, , Accessed 16 Jan., 2017. 




An online encyclopedia, Wikipedia ( ) can be a wonderful resource tool; if nothing else, it is inclusive, presenting information about pretty much anybody and anything. But as is the case with virtually everything else, the information it contains can sometimes prove to be too much of a good thing.


It might, for example, stretch a point when it lists somebody’s accomplishments; this individual might be claiming bragging rights even when they are not totally warranted. So, you have to use it judiciously. To consider: Use the resources that are listed at the end of a page. They might be reliable even if the entire Wikipedia entry is not. 

Guidelines for Conducting Research

You should begin conducting research for an essay by collecting online and print resources that touch upon the subject at hand. Then, you should ask the following questions about the ones that appear the most promising.

Will it further your readers’ knowledge of the topic at hand?

Is it directly pertinent to the topic you are researching?

Is it appropriate for your intended audience? 

Is it both reliable as credible, with academic journals and other sources being the most likely to meet these standards? 

Does it fit into the guidelines your instructor has established for this assignment?

Resources that draw an affirmative response to at least the majority of these questions should be brought into the mix when you compose your paper.

Resources to Use When Conducting Research


These resources outline steps to follow when you are conducting library research:


"ConductingResearch." libguides.wustl, Accessed 19 May 2016.


"Library Research at Cornell: The Seven Steps." guides.library.cornell. Accessed 20 May, 2016.


"Seven Steps to Effective Library Research." Iibrary.newpaltz, Accessed 19 May, 2016.



People generally assume that doing research over the internet is infinitely faster and easier than is conducting library research. They might, however, be mistaken in accepting that assumption without asking some hard questions. And this short exercise might grant you some unexpected insights into these matters.

Pick a topic, possibly one with which you are already familiar. Then, spend a specified amount of time – an hour, a half an hour, whatever - collecting information about it online. Next, devote the same period of time to carrying out research in a library.

Was the first method as speedy as you had expected it would be? Did it yield quality results? Or, did you have to weave your way through some “substandard” listings before you finally arrived at the information you were seeking? Were many of the listings you encountered posted by people trying to sell you something rather than to inform you?

Keep one thing in mind. As has been noted, anybody can post an article on any subject of their choosing, even if they lack the requisite expertise that would make their contribution credible. Then, if everything is properly aligned, the search engines – Yahoo, Google – will grant it a high listing. Consequently, you have to do your own due diligence when you conduct research online, determining which resources it delivers to you are reliable and merit your attention.

Libraries, however, work by a totally different agenda. Their space and budgets are limited. So, librarians have to be judicious as they determine what books to purchase and subsequently circulate, selecting ones that meet their standards and expense accounts. As they complete that vetting process, they perform some of the due diligence that you are obligated to perform when you conduct research online. They do some of the heavy lifting for you, saving you time and energy as you conduct research.


Chapter SIX




This booklet has taken you on a journey that has been long, but, one might hope, neither too bumpy nor too arduous. This excursion was designed to help you feel more confident about writing research papers and hopefully it has accomplished that objective. But remember, working your way through it represents nothing more than a step on your way to the long term goal of becoming an effective writer.



Working towards that goal represents a life-long process that does not readily lend itself to a predetermined end point such as the completion of this text. Consequently, I sincerely hope that you will come back to this booklet as often as possible, reviewing the guidelines it presents.



Nobody knows what size and shape research papers will assume at some point in the future. Hyperlinks might become more the norm than are citations or lists of references cited. Or, the mobile devices of the future might all have features that make it easier to write research papers on them, as their real estate is expanded; technology is already working in that direction. Any transformations that occur will not, however, take away from one essential fact. Writing research papers demands a degree of discipline that cruising through cyberspace often does not.

The following assignments focus on three documents considered to be examples of effective research papers. You will be asked to state whether you found them to be both approachable and informative, traits towards which any research paper should aspire.




Morina, Luisa. "Can Medication Cure Obesity in Children? A Review of the Literature.” academia, Accessed 6 Jan 2017.

Read this article and then consider the following:

Did the fact that the author constantly asked questions instead of simply supplying information help you to connect with this paper and its message? Or, did you find that strategy to be both confusing and distracting? Did the fact the author used a question in the title of her paper make you more interested in reading it than might otherwise have been the case?  Did it draw you into her writing?

 Would this paper have more firmly held your attention if it put names and faces on the subject, presenting, for example, case histories of children who took the medications being discussed. Do you think that the sentences in this paper are too long and complicated? Might this paper be more approachable if the sentences had been simplified and shortened?



Daly, Angela. "A Call to Action: Regulate Use of Cell Phones on the Road."MLA Research Paper (Daly).” essaysforstudent Action-Regulate-Use/39806.html.  Accessed 16 May, 2016.

Read this article and then consider the following: 

The title of this essay clearly summarizes the major point it sets out to make - the use of cell phones on the road must be more strictly regulated. There are, however, many different approaches that somebody might take as they attempt to make that argument resonate with readers.


A writer might, for example, decide to simply concentrate on facts and figures. She might, accordingly, note that x number of people were harmed/ killed by distracted drivers last year; action must be taken. And she could make that statement without ever directly mentioning the names and faces that are accounted for in these statistics.  


The author of this essay, however, took a very different approach when she scripted it. In an effort to make her words impactful, she relates specific incidents in which distracted drivers caused traffic fatalities but faced only light punishments. For example, she notes that although a midshipman was responsible (for the deaths) of John and Carole Hall, the judge was only able to find him guilty of negligent driving and impose a $500 fine.


Do you think that her taking that approach makes her writing stronger? Did it work to win you over to her point of view that action must be taken? Or did it have little impact upon you one way or another?




Rivers, Carol. "Reinstating Compulsory Conscription." sunyjefferson, Accessed 19 May, 2016.


Read this article and then consider the following:


This paper obviously has a strong message to deliver: Compulsory conscription (a draft) should be instituted or at least strongly considered. In making her point, Ms. Rivers grants her paper a professional touch by interspersing a historical perspective into it. She notes, for example, the impact that a draft had upon the outcome of the American Revolution.


However, Ms. Rivers also brings her own personal experiences into her discourse, as she does in the following excerpt


Even more frightening, several of my coworkers today express exasperation with my continued devotion to watching CNN. They complain, “International news doesn’t apply to us. Why don’t you watch the local news instead? That’s what’s important here.” They express these comments during our global “war on terrorism,” with troops dying by the hundreds in Iraq and Afghanistan and North Korea’s attempts at proliferation of nuclear arms. They do not realize that the U.S. armed forces need public support now more than ever at this critical point in America’s continued fight for freedom and safety.

After you read this excerpt, did you ask yourself: Why should I be particularly concerned about the conflicts she has had with her co-workers? Why do I need to know about these skirmishes when they have no direct effect on my life? Does her relating these incidents benefit her paper in any discernible way?


Those are hard question to answer. And they can be linked back to the dialogue earlier in this booklet which stressed the need to be nuanced when you bring your individual experiences/ opinions into your writing. These matters must be handled with care if you want to sound professional.


List of References Cited


Bezant, Elizabeth. "The Fog Index A Powerful Tool for any Writer." writing-information-and-tipshttp://www.writing-information-and- 15 May, 2016.


Bilefsky, Dan. "Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It's Called, It's Going Out of Style." nytimes, 9 June,  2016. Accessed 14 June, 2016.


“Blackberry's Last Stand at The Pentagon?  nextgov     pentagon-not-yet/62027/. Accessed 1 August, 2017.


Brown, Emma and T. Rees Shapiro. "Suburbs face new challenges as poverty grows in inner suburbs." washingtonpost, 27 Feb., 2015. Accessed 14 May, 2016.


"CBS Audience Services Info & Feedback: Popular Questions are Shown Below Feedback Form."  CBS, Accessed 13 May, 2016.


"Choc'late Lovin' Spoon Cake." sweetstreet Accessed 3 August, 2017.


Comm, Joel. "Why I Have Stopped Following Your Posts on Facebook." joelcomm, 8 Oct., 2015. . Accessed 3 March, 2018.


"Conducting "Conducting." libguides.wustl Accessed 15 May, 2016.


Confronting Suburban Poverty in America." Accessed 21 May, 2016.


Daly, Angela. "A Call to Action: Regulate Use of Cell Phones on the Road." hunter.cuny, documented- essay/documentationstyles/2mla-sample-pagesv2.pdf. Accessed 9 May, 2017.


"English Grammar 101: All You Need to Know,” dailywritingtips     know/. Accessed 15 May, 2016.


“Gentrification.” businessdictionary, Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"Grammar." The Purdue OWL Family of Sites.” owl.english.purdue, Accessed 17 May, 2016. Accessed 16 May, 2016.


Gretchen Rubin. gretchenrubin Accessed August 1, 2017. 


“Gunning Fox Index.” Accessed 10 May, 2017. 


"How to Conduct Effective Research: A Key Process for Students in   Writing." youtube  Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"How to Use English Punctuation Correctly.” wikihow Accessed  16 May, 2016.


King, Martin Luther, Jr. "Letter from Birmingham Jail." kinginstitute.stanford . Accessed 16 May, 2016.


King, YaShekia. "How To Write an Insight Paper." synonym, Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"Library Research at Cornell: The Seven Steps.” guides.library.cornell, Accessed 16 May, 2016.


Michael, Chris and Ellie Violet Bramley. "Spike Lee's Gentrification rant - transcript: 'Fort Greene park is like the Westminster dog show.'" theguardian, 26 Feb., 2014. Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"MLA Formatting and Style Guide." owl.english.purdue,, Accessed 3 August, 2017.


Morina, Luisa. "Can Medication Cure Obesity in Children? A Review of the  Literature.” academia, Accessed 6 Jan 2017.


 Urbanism. Accessed16 May, 2016.


“New urbanism developments and an influx of out-of-state buyers are transforming the Texas Coast." texasgulfcoastonline, Accessed  1 August, 2017.


Newton, Casey. Twitter is rolling out 280-character tweets around the world." theverge, 7 Nov. 2017. Accessed 3 March, 2018.


"North Dakota Boom Town Slum." islandbreath.blogspot, Accessed 1 August, 2017.


"North Dakota Boomtown Struggles Trying to Keep Up with Demand." youtube, Accessed 16 May, 2016.


Oh, Inae. "Spike Lee's Incredible Gentrification 'Rant' Is Backed by Solid Facts." huffingtonpost, 27 Feb., 2014.  _n_4856847.html. Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"Online Writing Lab "Grammar." owl.english.purdue, 16 May, 2016.


Quick, Brad and Morgan Brennan. “Inside North Dakota's latest fracking  problem." CNBC Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"Punctuation - Signs and Symbols." skillsyouneed, Accessed  6 May, 2016.


Quick, Brad and Morgan Brennan. “Inside North Dakota's latest fracking  problem." CNBC Accessed 16 May, 2016.


Pudwill, Christina. "25 Magical Pictures of Fog." photographyblogger, Accessed 1 August, 2017.


Pyati, Archana. "The Quickening of a Reborn Detroit?" urbanland.uli Accessed 28 Feb., 2018.


Rivers, Carol. "Reinstating Compulsory Conscription."  sunyjefferson, Accessed 16 May, 2016.


Schulten, Katherine. "Do Your Friends on Social Media All Have the Political Opinions You Do?” learning.blogs.nytimes, May, 2015.  media-all-have-the-same-political-opinions-you-do/. Accessed 16 May, 2016. 


"Seven Steps to Effective Library Research." library.newpaltz, Accessed 16 May, 2016.


"Spike Lee Biography."   thefamouspeople, Accessed 1 August, 2017.


“Survey of America's Charter Schools 2014." Ed. Ted Rebarber, Alison Consoletti Zgainer. edreform, . Accessed 16 May, 2016.


“Take a Kid for a Run - even if you need to trick them to Go." runrichmondky,  n-even-if-you-need-to-trick-them-to-go/ . Accessed 1 August, 2017.


Yagoda, Ben. "The Point of Exclamation."  nytimes, 6 August,  2012.     exclamation/. Accessed 14 June, 2016.     


Youngs, Jeff. "Are You A Distracted Drive?"jdpower, 24 Feb. 2012. advice/are-you-distracted-driver. Accessed 1 August, 2017.