Research is not:
Words for the wise student:
Netcaster. David Douglas Duncan, Mexico, 1937. Photography Collection.
[Special thanks to Meg Omainsky for permission to adapt her research guide]
The Big 6 research step can be used to successfully organize, conduct and present your research. The Big 6 was developed by information scientists, Bob Berkowitz and Mike Eisenberg, consists of the following six steps to research success:
Step 1- Task Definition
Step 2- Information Seeking
Step 3- Location and Access
Step 4- Use of Information
Step 5- Synthesis
Step 6- Evaluation
Skyline College has provided an excellent explanation of the problem students have with superficial research:
Many students believe that doing research means copying facts and quotes from various sources, reorganizing and paraphrasing that information, typing it up, and calling it “research.” This superficial approach to research merely reports and summarizes what is already known, and goes no further. Genuine bibliographic research, however, is a far more creative and challenging process.
You are doing genuine research – i.e. not merely summarizing what is already known -- when your research aims to answer a unique, appropriately narrowed research question. In other words, the key to doing authentic research is to find something that you think is worth investigating, put it in the form of a question, and make that the focus of your research.
Let’s take an example. You’ve been assigned to write a paper on the problem of homelessness in America. A superficial (and boring!) approach to this topic would be to find a lot of statistics and quotes about homelessness, incorporate them into your essay, and conclude your paper by saying, “Clearly, the problem of homeless must be addressed.” Nothing new or interesting would be discovered or put forth with this approach, and it would be uninspiring for you to write and for your professor to read.
You could, however, conduct genuine research into this subject by formulating an interesting research question and making that your focus. Here’s one possibility: “How do programs that require homeless persons to enroll in rehabilitation and job training affect homeless rates in American cities?”
With a solid research question in mind, you begin gathering information from a variety of sources. You will uncover different ideas and perspectives, which you must analyze, compare, and evaluate. You read what others have written because their writings inform, strengthen, complement, or challenge your own ideas. By the end of the process, you should be able to present your own evaluative perspective – your own informed opinion. Although no instructor will expect you to become a world-renown expert on a topic or settle a long-running debate, you will be expected to show original thinking in your thesis statement, discussion, and conclusion.
The table below summarizes the differences between superficial and genuine research:
|SUPERFICIAL RESEARCH||GENUINE RESEARCH|