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A Research Plan...
Start with the end in mind. Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Most projects start with a purpose and a general action plan. You wouldn't buy a car or plan a vacation without giving some thought to the end result. Research is the same as any other project--a little advance thought and planning pay off big dividends!
First, think about your topic. Jot down what you know about it. Note questions you have about it. What aspects of the topic interest you? What are some of the issues connected with your topic? What type of discipline does your topic fall into? Narrow yout topic down to a single question; then ask if that topic fulfills the requirements of your assignment, including any page requirements.
Next, gather background information. Write down what you need to know to answer your research question. Think about sources that will best lead you to that information. Then do some background reading on your topic using encyclopedias or subject-specific dictionaries. Write down topic phrases or words that are associated with your topic. Write down names of authors or other experts involved in the field. Are there any significant dates or events connected to your topic? Are there scholarly sources you might want to follow up on? Books about your topic can also give you important information which you can supplement with more current information as you do further research.
Then focus your research. Gather current information which specifically answers your research questions, using scholarly journal articles if required for the assignment. Articles from trade journals and high quality web sites can also be helpful if you can use these as sources.
Finally, evaluate. Does your information come from credible, reliable sources? Has your question been fully answered? Does your information fulfill the requirements of the assignment?
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