Quick Tips for the Panic-Stricken
OK, you’ve stumbled into A+ Research & Writing looking for help because your paper’s due in a week, and you have no idea where to start. You don’t have time to read through this whole site. Is there a quicker way to get started right now?
Well, if you promise to come back and read A+ to help you with your next paper, we’ll give you some shortcuts to the “basics.”
Make an appointment with your reference librarian
Reference librarians are trained to help students organize their research approach and carry out the research. Be sure to let the librarian know exactly what your assignment is, how much time you have to finish it and what you’ve done so far to get started.
Take an online “short course” on library research
An quick and easy online tutorial from the Houston Community College System. The tutorial has very specific and helpful instructions on: Steps in the Research Process, The Art of Questioning, The Chain of Information, Interpreting Citations, Access Tools, etc. and good descriptions of the major library reference tools such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographical sources.
- The Research Center: A Guide to Using Libraries and Other Information Facilities (Houston CC)
Take on online “short course” about Web research
A fun tutorial to get you started with Web surfing and searching. Sections on: Scouting the Range, Scoping the Search, Using Your Tools, Starting Points, and Searching with Engines. Handy worksheets accompany each section—for you to print out and use to help structure your search.
Surf to one of the OWLs and bookmark it in your browser
What’s an OWL? An Online Writing Lab, usually provided by a college or university to help students with writing (and research) projects. They have great online “handouts” to help with everything from outlining your paper to where to place a comma! Choose one from our list of OWLs on the Web, or go directly to the big granddaddy of them all at Purdue University (over 100 handouts!). Look over what’s there and be ready to go back again as you start the writing process.
Try to find a “model” of the type of paper you’re writing
There are lots of suggestions for topics at the following websites. See if you can get your ideas flowing by browsing them. Some of these sites merely list topics. Others also provides links to resources on their suggested topics.
- Public Agenda Issue Guides
- Research Guide on Paper Topics from the University Library at California State University, Long Beach
- Hot Topics from the University of Louisville’s Library’s Government Resources Page
- 0’Keefe Library-Best Information on the Net-Hot Paper Topics
- Term Paper Topics, Idaho State University
Best of luck, and come back to see us when you have more time!!
A+ Research & Writing for high school and college students was created by Kathryn L. Schwartz