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2 The Academic Research Process Contents: • Four-step process to academic research: topic selection, preliminary research, writing a research proposal (optional), and additional research • How to use the internet as a research tool • What to include in electronic research notes Key Terms: • Preliminary research • Additional research • Oral sources • Research proposal • Thesis Figures: • Figure 2.1: The academic research process • Figure 2.2: Internet research: What’s in and what’s out • Figure 2.3: Example of notes for research • Figure 2.4: Pitch letter to University of Ottawa Press • Figure 2.5: Canadian Forces College Masters of Defence Studies research proposal Our goal in this chapter is to take you through, step by step, the process that we recommend for conducting your research. This process, shown at Figure 2.1, is divided into four distinct steps, three of which are integral, and one of which you should understand even if it is not immediately relevant to your current project. 31 02-Military:02-Military 24/10/09 10:11 Page 31 32 The Academic Research Process • Be interested. • Pick your topic quickly. • Come up with a question worth answering. If you are new to the topic: • Speak to an academic. • Speak to a research officer at the library. • Look at chapters from recent textbooks. Ask: is the research question appropriate for the length of the essay? 1. Gain a reasonable sense of key primary evidence. 2. Gain a general sense of the state of secondary research that already exists. Goal: be familiar with the important primary evidence by the end of this process. 1. Topic selection Two goals: Make electronic research notes that include • Bibliographical information about the source • Biographical information about the author • Relevant page numbers • Direct quotations • A separate page of key sources discovered during research 2. Preliminary research Figure 2.1: The academic research process (Continued on next page) 02-Military:02-Military 24/10/09 10:11 Page 32 The Academic Research Process 33 4. Additional research Remember: your research findings should determine how you answer your question. Read the directions carefully and request to see previously successful proposals. 1. Find resources based on the most important primary evidence. 2. Focus on the most current research first. 3. Choose resources with rigorous editorial standards. 4. Know when to stop reading—and start writing. 3. (Optional): Writing a research proposal Figure 2.1: The academic research process (cont’d) Lengths and forms of proposals vary, but generally include the following: the context in which you came up with your topic; a proposed title; your research question; your intended audience and the benefits of your research to this group; a brief literature review and preliminary bibliography; your tentative argument; your research methodology; a timeline for completion. 02-Military:02-Military 24/10/09 10:11 Page 33 I. Topic Selection In some cases, this problem will be solved for you. Certain academic courses provide students with a list of topics, or even specific research questions. Academic journals might also solicit articles dealing with particular issues or themes. The longer the assignment , however, the less likely it is that you will be told what to write. In that case, choosing an appropriate topic will be critical to your success. We strongly recommend that you pick a topic that genuinely interests you, as opposed to one that you simply think will be of interest to your reader. Fair readers will respond to your personal enthusiasm rather than just to their own. We also advise that you pick that topic as quickly as possible. Momentum is often critical to academic success, especially if the process is new and/or overwhelming. Once you have a general topic of interest, before you contemplate doing research, we advise that you attempt to come up with a question worth answering. If you try to start your research before you have a question, you will inevitably read too broadly and sacrifice some of the scarce time that you have available. Instead, if the topic is new to you, and you do not yet even know what types of questions to ask, consult with an expert (immediately). Speak to an academic in the relevant field or to a more senior level mentor. If they are not available, the research officers at your library or information resource centre should be able to help, as should chapters of recent textbooks that deal with your topic. Any of these sources should be able to provide you with a basic sense...


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MARC Record
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