Not sure where to get started? Any of the following might help:A great place to begin is with what you find interesting. What questions do you have from class discussions?
Once you've picked a topic, you'll want to do a bit of background research.
If you have any questions about definitions or the context of some of these issues (such as "how long have we been using nuclear energy in the US?"), head to a reference source to discover more information. Your best bets are:
Now that you know a bit about your topic, try searching the catalog for more info. Try to be at least a little specific. For example, a search of fertilizer, pollution and lakes brings up the following book:
Once you've checked out any print or online books that are interesting to you, move on to Academic Search Complete to look for popular articles. Try using the same combination of words that worked in the catalog as your starting point.
Finally, finish up your research with some authoritative websites.
While you're doing Google searches to either narrow your topic or in order to dig up more information on certain subject, you want to be careful to decide if the information you find is trustworthy.
When it comes to science, nearly everyone has opinions: should we be labeling genetically modified food for consumer's awareness? What will fracking do for our economy or our groundwater supply? Your job is to evaluate the information you can find through Google and Bing to find the good websites--those written by authors you can trust, with good and up-to-date information.
Authorship: Who created this website? What is their background on the topic? Are they trustworthy?
Bias: Why was the website created? What point of view does the author have? Does that limit the facts they present or how the facts are presented?
Date: How old is the information that is presented? Is it still accurate?
Questions? Check out the COD Library's guide to evaluating information.
Of course, as you get ideas and data from your sources, you want to be able to cite them. Keep in mind that you want to cite not only quotations, but also ideas that you get from your research.
Not sure if you are paraphrasing, plagiarizing, or patchwriting? Check out Academic Integrity by Ulrike Kestler, which has a section on all three.
Need some help putting together citations? Check out the helpful links below:
Want software to create citations for you? Check out the database below: