Have you ever heard a song and really wanted to have it in your own collection? How did you go about satisfying that need? Chances are, you had to:
- Investigate to find out the song’s title:
(“E.T.,” “The Lazy Song,” “Born This Way,” “Latinoamérica”)
- Investigate to find out who performed the song:
(Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Kanye West, Calle 13)
- Investigate to find out what CD that song was on:
(Teenage Dream, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Born This Way, Entren Los Que Quieran)
- Investigate to find out where—or if—you could buy that CD or mp3s.
You can’t—and won’t—get what you want without investigating.
And it’s really no different with researching. To find what you want and need, you will have to investigate.
Why Is Investigating So Important in Your Research?
Researching takes a lot of your time and your effort.
The wrong approach can waste your time and effort and result in a paper you know your professors won’t want—and a grade you don’t want.
So, Where Do You Start Investigating?
Researching is a process:
- Identifying a topic
- Analyzing the assignment so you know what you are expected to accomplish
- Writing a thesis statement
- Searching for important information to support your thesis statement
- Working the information you find into the paper you are writing
Investigating Step 1: Analyzing the Assignment
Investigating Step 2: Identifying a topic
Deciding on a topic to research can be frustrating.
What SHOULD you choose for a topic? Your answer may be “I have no idea what I want.” But don’t let this bog you down. Topics are all around you every day.
Using this statement for a paper allows you to skip over the sources:
- that do not deal with profiling.
- that do not deal with the apprehension of serial killers.
- that deal only with the injustices of “racial profiling.”
A good working thesis statement saves you time and keeps you focused.
Avoiding Poor Thesis Statements
It is important not only to have a thesis statement, but to have a good one. An inadequate thesis statement is almost as bad as not having one at all.
Here are examples of thesis statements you’ll want to avoid—because they’ll lead to weak papers with poor grades:
Not every thesis statement can be supported. You may search for sources to support your thesis statement and come up empty.
Investigating Step 4: Searching for Information
- Which of the following would make the best research question to guide an 8-page analytical research paper?
- Is fast food bad for children?
- Do fast food companies focus their advertisements on children?
- How do fast food companies create effective advertisements aimed at children?
- Which type of assignment requires you to explore multiple aspects of your topic and present your research findings without attempting to persuade the reader to take a position?
- basic report
- analytical paper
- argumentative paper
- Your professor has assigned a 6-page report about an environmental issue. Which of the following would make the best topic (not too narrow or too broad)?
- Air pollution in urban areas
- Respiratory diseases in children in high density areas
- Environmental consequences of California’s October 2007 forest fire.
- Renewable energy in the United States.
- Which is the first step in investigating your research topic?
- Citing your sources
- Searching a database
- Reading a scholarly article about the topic
- Analyzing the assignment
- Which of the following statements about thesis statements is NOT correct?
- A good thesis statement saves you time and keeps you focused.
- Every thesis statement can be supported by research.
- A thesis statement helps you concentrate on what you want and ignore information that is irrelevant.
- A good thesis statement can often be converted into a question.
- 1.3; Questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” generally do not make the best research question. It is preferable to start your question with “How”, “What”, or “Why.”
- 3.2 is a good topic that you can continue to refine as you learn more about it.
- 4.4; The type of assignment will determine what kind of research you need to do so you should begin by first analyzing the assignment.
- 5.2; A good thesis statement will save you time and keep you focused and will help you concentrate on the information you need; A good thesis statement can often be converted into a question. However, not every thesis statement can be supported by research because the topic may be too current or too obscure.