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Research Strategies


Connecting Research and Inquiry:  In beginning this assignment, you need to decide on an educational topic in which you have strong interest and isolate a particular controversial issue within that topic which you will research and write about.  You will research to gain an understanding of the ongoing "conversation" about this particular issue, identify the range of positions on the issue (finding at least three strong articles from research that represent those positions), analyze and synthesize the positions/arguments, and define your tentative position on the issue as influenced by the positions you've identified and discussed.  


Active research is essential to inquiry. Serious inquiry involves discovering and analyzing what others are arguing in relation to this issue,  forming and questioning your own opinions, and deciding what you will accept as the truth about the issue.


Recording Your Research:  Carefully recording your research will help you stay organized and save a good deal of time later as you complete analyses and begin to draft your paper.  Here are a few essential activities you should complete in the researching process.  


Take Notes—whether in your writer's notebook, on a form you create, or in your notepad or spiral notebook.  Record carefully the bibliographic information for each of the sources you find.  See the “Research Notebook” section in PHG (546-50).   


Annotate and Paraphrase—annotate each article, writing down initial responses to the author's ideas and questions that come to mind.  Paraphrase the main claim/thesis of each article and reasons that support/justify that claim. Also note how each source may be useful to you or relevant to your tentative position.


On‑Line Databases:  Several on‑line databases are available to you through the CSU library's home page (  Most can be accessed by choosing the "Online Databases" option or the “Full Text” option (see Databases Handout.)  Note that some databases are more general while others are specific to particular subjects or fields of interest.


SAGE:  SAGE is the library’s online public access catalog.  It is a resource which provides information on books, periodicals, newspapers, reference texts and other materials that Morgan Library owns.  NOTE:  In most cases, after locating sources via databases or other media, you will need to go to SAGE to find out if our library has them (unless the database provides full-text).  SAGE will tell you the status and location of sources.  Also, if Morgan does not have a particular source, it will point you toward other libraries that do.  You can access SAGE from the library home page under the “Catalogs & Databases” heading.  


Periodicals:  Here are some of the magazines (beyond more general-audience magazines such as Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report) that may offer articles on important current educational issues:


‑ Harper's                                            - Independent

‑ Atlantic Monthly                               - The Economist

‑ New Republic                                    - The Nation

‑ National Review                               - Business Week

‑ Utne Reader                                      - The Christian Science Monitor

‑ The Humanist                                   - Scientific American 


(Note that this list is by no means comprehensive.)



Reference Texts:  Reference texts  provide statistics, facts, definitions, demographic, and other useful types of information. You may find them useful especially early in the process of researching your topic.