Research before Writing Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hi everyone:

It’s amazing. Students think that they can sit down and write an assignment without doing any research. Folks, that’s a good way to end up with writer’s block. If you haven’t seen what scholars have said about your topic, you can only write so much, especially if you don’t know anything about the topic.

Please don’t “fake it till you make it.” This is especially important if you are writing about something that your professor is an expert on. Whoa, that’s a bad idea and I have seen it done. Things do not go well when you try that. Even today, if I were writing about Aristotle, I would start by looking at what one of my former professors wrote about it. He is an expert on Aristotle and literally wrote a book about it (and countless articles that completely fill his desktop). Note: Do not misquote the author at any time, especially if you are citing the professor.

So how do you do decent research? Start with your school library, if you have a hint of what’s available in the way of topics. If, and only if, I knew absolutely nothing about something, I would google it. (Before your jaw drops too completely, this is only a start.) I would look over what google said and then immediately move to scholarly articles on whatever I found.

The challenge is when students stop at google. Then they think that google is “common knowledge” and they don’t cite anything they find there. That’s still plagiarism, even if the sources aren’t too reliable. I can find a googled source in seconds, and that’s the end of your paper.

Do not consider that you have done research if you check out paper mills, where you are guaranteed a certain grade if you pay a certain price. That’s not research. It’s cheating. I can find those papers, as well. That’s the end of your reputation, depending on which college you are attending.

Many colleges offer classes (or at least part of a course) on how to navigate their library system. Take the class. Immediately. It will save you hours and improve your grades if you know how to find things in their library. Use the library often, and your papers will have good foundations.

Best,

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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