There are proper ways to research a paper...and there are the ways most
students do it: laboriously, tediously, and inefficiently. Here are the
techniques and shortcuts that the pros use. They will enable students to
find their way to the best resources for their own projects.
From preparing the preliminary outline, work file, and bibiliography,
Research Shortcuts proceeds to using the appropriate resource guides,
as well as modern aids to research. It also discusses shortcuts that reach
the experts: writing letters that get questions answered, and making
face-to-face (or telephone) interviews pay off.
What the reviewers said:
"Many of the suggestions...should be learned at a young age and
students would do well to peruse these books....The discussion of
resources, a brief overview of a library's organization, interviewing, use
of the telephone—all these and more might suggest ways for students to go
about research for their assignments." —Kliatt
"Thirty-eight research shortcuts are presented in a concise manner and
with ample examples. The process of securing a notebook, taking
notes on one side of the paper, and physically organizing the material
is discussed. Excellent suggestions for source materials an
methods for utilizing them are presented. The art of deciding exactly what
needs to be researched is explained. Instruction on interviewing skills
and using surveys is also given. Finally, methods for developing the rough
and first drafts are offered. Designed for use by college students, this
work is useful for anyone doing research. Recommended."
"This book provides excellent practical advice on
mapping out the research project, gathering information, and writing up
the paper. It would be highly useful to the novice writer who wants to
write nonfiction for profit."
—Dissemination Network for Adult Educators
"The authors of Research
Shortcuts effectively guide the reader from preliminary
research to final draft in 108 pages of clear and concise tips. Although
intended for a student audience, this quick and easy read will appeal to
all writers, new or experienced. Prolific authors themselves,
Kesselman-Turkel and Peterson promise to deliver "techniques and
shortcuts that years of research time have taught us, so that you can
find your way like a pro to the best and fastest resources for your own
projects.' They succeed indeed.
"The 38 shortcuts contained in this book are divided into
five sections that serve as an outline for completing a research and
writing project. The authors emphasize the importance of organizing
research to maximize efforts and provide a formula for estimating the
reasonable number of hours necessary to research and write. They stress
the time saving quality of careful note taking and furnish illustrations
of the detailed bibliography forms they use in their own research. Note:
these forms would be more useful if they were camera ready so they could
be copied directly from the book. Additionally, the authors introduce
interview techniques that novice researchers may overlook and provide
detailed tips for successful face-to-face and telephone interviews. A
warning to the reader is needed here. The authors assert that it is
acceptable to tape record a phone interview with the consent of one
party to the conversation. However, the Reporters Committee for Freedom
of the Press Website informs readers that Federal law allowing for
"one-party consent" recordings has been strengthened by some states.
Thus, prudent researchers should always ask permission before taping a
is a book advisors can easily recommend to all students, and
especially to those who are inexperienced writers still developing a
voice and writing style. This is not a daunting read and it offers sound
advice: follow an outline, stay organized, research with a clear
purpose, and, finally, write. Affordably priced at $6.95, this is a
resource students can use repeatedly for all types of research."
---Sharon Baffa Keeling, Academic Advisor,
Dept. of Political Science and Sociology/Anthropology,
writing in National
Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Journal, issue 25. Reprinted with
permission of the author.
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An excerpt from Research Shortcuts:
Make Wise Use of Modern Aids to Research
There’s no need to remind you about photocopy machines. They’re a
standard component of all but the smallest libraries. If anything,
students tend to overuse them. It’s tempting—and seemingly timesaving—to
throw a nickel or dime into the box and have the machine copy the page
that contains the quote you may find useful. But then you end up with
reams of photocopied pages to sort through. You haven’t escaped having to
decide whether the material really fits in, whether you need it all, and
whether it belongs as a quote or a paraphrase. You’ve just put off
deciding. In many cases, that makes you read and evaluate all the material
twice. In addition to wasting money, you really do waste time.
Instead, do your culling right in the library. With your list of
annotated questions as a guide, you should be able to decide on the spot
whether you need a direct quote, a paraphrase, or merely notes that sum up
the information. You should even be able to tell, from the other citations
you’ve collected, whether you need a long quote or a short one.
The same is true of printing out what you find on the Internet. Unless you
think you won’t find another computer that’s connected to a printer later
on when you’re writing your first draft, just quote, paraphrase or sum up
the reference and its importance and write down its URL (Internet address)
so you can find it again.
We don’t photocopy or print out a page unless we’re planning to quote
directly more than four or five lines from it. When we do photocopy or
make a printout, we circle the applicable part immediately so we don’t
have to read the entire page again. Remember to key the page to your
bibliography sheet by writing the author’s last name and reference number
on it, and make sure to add the number of the question it answers.
The Internet is filled with up-to-date and historic information about
everything under the sun, much of it free for the taking. But to find
them, you have to choose a good search engine for your needs, learn how to
use its search rules and shortcuts and get very good at choosing the right
Search engines keep complete, up-to-date information about nearly
everything on the Web. Some are more family oriented than others and
favorites keep getting replaced by newer, better favorites. We used
AltaVista until Google came along. Some services are useful for special
searches even when they’re not best for everything. For instance, Lycos,
unlike Google, lets you specify whether to find what you’re looking for in
text on the site or in the site’s name (URL).
Most search engines provide their own list of search rules and
shortcuts, though some make you search their site hard to find them. Since
not all services mean the same thing by word strings, the symbol +, - and
quotes around words, it pays to read your favorite site’s tips before
starting your first serious search. It also pays to click on and use
Advanced Search when available.
Most important, however, is choosing the right key words to search. (Google!’s
internal list of synonyms makes the job a bit easier.) When we looked up
search +”key word” in Google!, it found 753,000 hits (website pages where
the two appeared together). When we changed it to "search engine" +"key
words" +"Web search" +tips and used Advanced Search to request pages
updated in the last three months, it narrowed the results to about 650
hits, a number we could reasonably scan in a few minutes. (It helps if you
opt to see 50 results on a page, not 10.) If the engine is good, you’ll
usually find what you need within the first 50 or 100 results.
Guard against narrowing your choices so much, you block out half of
what you're looking for. This is particularly true if you’re using a
website’s own search engine. When we searched eBay for auctions of the
Braun Oral-B Excel Model D17535 electric toothbrush, we missed seeing half
the auctions until we just searched on Oral-B Excel.
If you need more help learning how to use key words and search rules,
you can find it by typing "search engine" +"key words" +"Web search" +tips
as key words in your favorite search engine.
When you’re researching in a library, don’t overlook the excellent
online research services, like Dialog and Nexus/Lexus, to which many
libraries subscribe. You can usually search them from the library for free
or for a very low cost. Also learn to use interlibrary loan. If your
library doesn’t have a book, periodical, CD or other reference tool that
you need, it can often be borrowed from another library in the United
States or Canada through a reciprocal lending network. In addition, the
Center for Research Libraries lends its book and periodical collection to
academic libraries and sells reprints of articles at nominal cost. The
U.S. Library of Congress, too, circulates part of its collection to
serious researchers through interlibrary loan, but you may have to hunt to
find a librarian who knows how to use the service.
You can’t depend on interlibrary loan for last-minute research, since
requests often take three or four weeks to fill. But it pays to become
familiar with the interlibrary loan apparatus at your library and to make
interlibrary loan one of your first research priorities whenever you’ve
got a long-term project that may call for borrowed materials. If you have
a hunch that some vital source or citation is unavailable locally, spend
your first few research hours checking on that material and filling out
interlibrary loan request slips.
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