1) Selecting a suitable topic for your annotated bibliography
2) Identifying key concepts and words related to your topic
3) Broadening or narrowing a search related to your topic
If you are at this Lecture #2 site and reading this text, I hope you have already completed the quiz in the folder for Week #2, as well as the readings from the e-textbook - chapters 3 & 4. It is important that you have done so. The quiz assesses your understanding of last week's materials, and the chapters would have introduced you to understanding your research needs and developing a research strategy. This week, you will submit a research question on the topic of your choice for your annotated bibliography.
Following the above objectives of this lecture, you will find below descriptions in short sections that describe elements about the research process. This lecture supplements the readings of Chapter 3 & 4 and introduces you to additional information and exercises for you to perform so that you may connect theory to practice. Brainstorming your topic on paper by drawing a concept map is one of the best ways to zero in on a research area you might want to explore. But first, to begin, I have included the definition of "research" which I have selected from my favorite dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary. (The CSI Library has a subscription to the OED database.)
As a reminder, this course is designed for a "class-meeting" of 2 hours. As such, you should try to complete today's lesson in 2 hours. Please set aside an hour to get through the section below, including the exercises to do. Once completed, please go back to your Blackboard site, as you will be prompted to do so below, and spend another hour on assignments and discussions available in the folder for Week #2.
Any questions you may have, please do not hesitate to email me or drop in to see me at my virtual office hour.
Oxford English Dictionary Online, 3rd edition, 2010. The OED offers not only meanings and pronunciations to over 600,000 words, but differs from other dictionaries in that it offers the history of individual words.
The word "research" is used to describe a number of similar and often overlapping activities involving the search for information. For example, each of the following activities involves a different type of search; but the differences are significant and worth examining.
|RESEARCH TYPE||ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS|
|1. Find the population of each country in Africa OR the total (in dollars) of Japanese investment in the U.S. in 2002.||This type of research is a search for individual facts or data. It may be part of the search for a solution to a larger problem or simply the answer to a friendly, or not so friendly, bar bet! Concerned with fact, rather than knowledge or analysis and answers can normally be found in a single source.|
|2. Find out what is known generally about a fairly specific topic. "What is the history of the Internet?"||
This type of research is a report or review, not designed to create new information or insight but to collate and synthesize existing information. A summary of the past. Answers can typically be found in a selection of books, articles, and Websites.
[Note: gathering this information might include activities in #1 above]
|3. Gather evidence to determine whether gang violence is directly related to playing violent video games.||
This type of research seeks to gather and analyze a body of information or data and to extract new meaning from it or develop unique solutions to problems and cases. This is "real research" and requires an open-ended question for which there is no ready answer.
[Note: this will always include #2 above and usually #1. It may also involve gathering new data through experiments, surveys, or other techniques.]
In College, you will be asked to write research papers in just about every course you take. Why do you think this is the case?
Let's look at research like a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) would. We are all somewhat familiar with mysteries/crime cases that air on tv or that you've read in a book. How much does an investigator know when a case begins? Nothing! How much does an investigator know when the case is solved? Pretty much everything!
Here's a case: Two children are missing after their parents are found killed. Crime Scene Investigators are called to the scene. How do they proceed?
Let's look at how you can apply steps in solving a mystery against solving the answer to your research question.
|The CSI Case||Your Topic|
So, to answer the question at the top... Why is it the case that students are asked to write research papers? I hope you will agree with my answer when I say, if you follow the research process and do it well, you will be able to present an evaluation, interpretation, or argument of a topic (whatever your research question was). By writing research papers over and over again, you will learn the art of (become an expert in) analyzing, synthesizing, and understanding complex issues, easily and quickly.
This is a life-long learning foundational skill every student must be know as it becomes the bane of existence when one enters the real working world.
The annotated bibliography is step#5 in the crime scene investigation. An annotated bibliography will form the foundation of a research paper. Developing one forces a researcher to better understand the sources that will be included in one's research paper. As you evaluate and analyze and write up the summary about each source relating to your topic, you will gain a deeper perspective on whether it really fits as an answer to your research question...think of each one as a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. This exercise, critiquing each source, so to speak, may even reveal few sources that do not fit your topic and you may have to find additional sources.
In this course, you will learn how to create an annotated bibliography and we will do so using a scaffolding process over four weeks. First, (in week #3), you will find books relating to your chosen topic, and you will summarize the information following the prescribed details of creating an annotation. Next, (in week #4), you will find articles on the same topic, and you will follow the same ritual. Lastly, (in week #5), you will find some non-print materials on your topic to add to your growing document.
For more on creating an annotated bibliography, please go to the navigation frame on the left of this screen and click on "Annotated Bibliography." It's the last tab.
If you do not have a topic in mind for the annotated bibliography, here are some to get you started...
|Artificial Intelligence||Electric vs. Hybrid Vehicles|
|Identity Theft||Global Warming|
|Infectious Diseases||Prison Reform|
|Medical Marijuana||Females in Hip-Hop|
|"Me Too" Movement||Refugees in the U.S.|
|Gun Control||Food Waste|
|Social Media Addiction||Police Brutality|
|Assisted Suicide||Natural Disasters|
|Distance Learning and Home Schooling||White-Collar Crime|
Research requires a question for which no ready answer is available. For the annotated bibliography project in this class, you are required to submit a topic in the form of a research question. So, what do you want to know about a topic? Asking a topic as a question (or series of related questions) has several advantages:
Developing a question from a broad topic can be done in many ways. Two such effective ways are brainstorming and concept mapping.
Brainstorming is a free-association technique of spontaneously listing all words, concepts, ideas, questions, and knowledge about a topic. After making a lengthy list, sort the ideas into categories. This allows you to inventory your current awareness of a topic, decide what perspectives are most interesting and/or relevant, and decide in which direction to steer your research.
Concept Mapping. You may create a concept map as a means of brainstorming; or, following your brainstorm, you may take the content you have generated and create your map for it. Concept maps make elaborate or simple and are designed to help you organize your thinking about a topic, recognize where you have gaps in your knowledge, and help to generate specific questions that may guide your research.
Combining brainstorming and concept mapping (brain-mapping, if you will) can be a productive way to begin your thinking about a topic area. Try to establish as your goal, the drafting of a topic definition statement which outlines the area you will be researching and about which you will present your findings.
To view examples of some good and bad research questions, click on this LINK. And no, no, no, you may not submit any one of these as your research question.
A research question that is too narrow or specific may not retrieve enough information. If this happens, broaden the question. Most research questions have multiple contexts and varying levels of specificity.
The underlined terms below represent broader ways of asking without changing the basic meaning. If you find sources that treat a subject broadly, use the index or table of contents to locate useful sections or chapters. Or ask yourself, "How might the arguments made here support my argument?
INSTEAD OF: Should Makah whaling rituals be permitted despite endangered species laws?
TRY: Should Native Americans practice religious and social customs that violate local and federal laws?
INSTEAD OF: What are the economic impacts of sweat shops on development in South Asia?
TRY: What are the impacts of U.S. labor practices on developing countries?
A question that is too broad may retrieve too much information. Here are some strategies for narrowing the scope of a question. They may be used individually or in combinations.
|STRATEGY||EXPLANATION||EXAMPLE TOPIC: "INTERNET SECURITY"|
In the future?
|Internet security initiatives|
Local social norms & values
Economic & political systems
|Internet security in the U.S.|
gender, age, occupation, ethnicity
nationality, educational attainment, etc...
Filtering software and children's access to
A viewpoint allows you to focus on a single aspect, e.g.:
social, legal, medical, biological, psychological,
economic, political, philosophical?
The constitutionality of Internet
As you prepare to search any database, you need to have identified the central concepts on which you are about to research. For example, you are in desperate need of a new car for your new job 50 miles away. Central concepts you might consider would be: SAFE FEATURES + RELIABILIY + FUEL CONSUMPTION. You may further limit your choice by "cost" and "performance."
Search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and your library catalog, OneSearch, are programmed to match strings of characters and spaces and do not often understand the natural language we use with each other. They can't guess what you mean, don't "read" subtexts, and are easily confused by ambiguity, so clarify for them what you will be looking for, i.e., focus only on essential concepts.
||The media covers events. Unless the media caused the event, this term is unnecessary.|
|Value words like "favorite," "advantage," or "better" are not useful if you need to gather evidence to help you make a decision or develop a solution. Don't just grab an opinion or the "right" answer off someone else's shelf.|
||Many databases and search engines are programmed to ignore common words that don't impact a search. These are called "stopwords" and typically include terms like "the," "from," "about," "when," "if," etc. You get the point.|
Earlier, we discussed broadening and narrowing a research question. Vocabulary can also be broadened and narrowed to find different types of sources. This chart suggest some alternative vocabulary for the following research question:
"Should Native Americans practice religious and social customs that violate local and federal laws?"
North American History
North American Indians
rites and ceremonies
Bureau of Indian Affairs
NAGPRA (Native American Graves
Protection & Reparation Act)
cases (e.g., Kennewick Man, Neah Bay Whaling)
Please log in to BlackBoard to complete the following listed in folder for the Week of Sept 2 -Sept 8. Any assignment, quiz, or tutorial given in this lesson MUST be completed on or before September 8, 2020 and submitted by 12noon:
CREDIT: With permission, partial content on this web page was adapted from the University of Idaho Information Literacy Portal.