Strong writing begins with the admission that one has a lot to learn. Research helps to remedy this situation. However, keep in mind that research is as much about exploration as it is about learning. Often, as we begin the research process, we do not even know what questions to ask, or we discover other questions that are more important than our initial questions.
As you work through the research stage, your goals should be to hone your research question, develop your thesis, and gather evidence for your supporting points. Try to allow your research to inspire brainstorming and note-taking. Explore and play with ideas as you learn about your topic. Finally, you should ensure you have performed an adequate survey of the available sources and that you have kept orderly and complete notes. When you have finished your research, you should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions.
|Checklist for the Research Stage|
|How [well] does my research question describe the scope and slant of my topic?|
|How extensive is my initial survey of possible resources for my topic?|
|Are my research notes methodical, complete, and orderly? Are they clear about what is quoted, paraphrased, and summarized from my research?|
|What other idea-generating techniques did I use—brainstorming, keeping a journal or research log, freewriting?|
|Are my bibliography notes complete with all citations and bibliographical data on every source, and are they representative of the survey of my topic?|