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College Level Research: Idea Development

Build on your high school research experiences and adjust to the higher standards recommended for college research projects with these tips and guidelines.

Getting Ideas Together

You have a research project due soon, and you just spent time finding sources.  Many students just start writing, but that leads to frustration later.  The recommended process involves these steps, in order:

1. Read an overview from an encyclopedia to get background information on your topic. This will help to develop some ideas about how to narrow your focus on your topic AND prepare you for the advanced sources you are expected to use for college-level research.

2. Use the library databases and library catalog to locate credible sources on your topic. Google may help with this, but there are many websites that have questionable credibility. 

3. Read / listen and understand your information from a variety of sources to build a strong network of ideas.  

4. Organize your information and determine what order to present the material for the strongest presentation.

5.  Compose your information in an orderly manner, using appropriate terminology, grammar, punctuation, and documenting source information using MLA, APA or other style format. 

6. Review and revise. Ask a peer to read  and review, then you can revise. Take it to the Writing Center for review, then revise again. Continue reviewing and revising until you are confident you have accomplished your goal.

Go to the sections listed under Idea Development for examples and more specific help for each of these steps.   


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