/ Published March 20, 2017
Writing Your Research Paper or Thesis
The following resources may be helpful in augmenting the research guidance received from your specific school or program at Air University. Before getting started with any research, be sure to review the assignment instructions and rubric.
Develop Your Topic, Research Questions, and Hypotheses
In addition to the books below, you may find it helpful to review the resources provided under Selecting a Topic in Stage 1. Analyze the Writing Assignment and Develop a Thesis in Stage 2. Plan the Essay & Develop Ideas.
A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th Edition (Turabian)
The Manual for Writers continues to be the gold standard for generations of college and graduate students in virtually all academic disciplines. Now in its eighth edition, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations has been fully revised to meet the needs of today’s writers and researchers.
Student's Guide to Writing College Papers, 4th Edition (Turabian)
Students all need to know how to write a well-reasoned, coherent research paper – and for decades Kate Turabian’s Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers has helped them to develop this critical skill. The book introduces students to the art of defining a topic, doing high-quality research with limited resources, and writing an engaging and solid college paper.
Using Sources in Research
Conducting Primary Research (Purdue OWL). Provides a brief discussion of collecting information directly from the world around you, including interviews, observations, and surveys.
Googlepedia: Turning Information Behaviors into Research Skills (WritingSpaces.org). Chapter in Writing Spaces; Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series on writing. The essay discusses the process of moving into the virtual library for research needs and merging current information behaviors with traditional information literacy strategies.
Evaluating Sources in Research
In addition to the resources below, you may find it helpful to review the resources on developing skillful, critical, and active Reading Practices as you consider your evaluation sources.
Primary Sources: Primary sources were created during the period being studied or were created later by a participant in the events being studied. Primary sources also include empirical studies involving experiments or direct observation. Results from empirical research are often found in scholarly journals. Primary sources reflect the participant or observer’s viewpoint.
Primary Sources Come in All Shapes and Sizes (Yale University). Presents examples of the major types of primary sources.
Examples include results of experiments and research, statistical data, vital records, historical and legal documents, original manuscripts, personal papers, memoirs and autobiographies, institutional records, oral histories and eyewitness accounts, artifacts, photographs, and maps. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, and newsgroups are also primary sources.
Secondary Sources: Secondary sources are works that describe, summarize, interpret, analyze, and evaluate primary sources, research results, or scientific discoveries (i.e., publications about the significance of someone else’s research or experiments). From an historical context, the source is at least one-step removed from the event.
Secondary Source in Research (ThoughtCo.com). Defines secondary sources and provides quotes and examples from scholarly researchers.
Examples include articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research, scholarly books and articles, reference books, and textbooks. Secondary sources also include articles in newspapers, popular books and magazines, and book reviews.
Evaluating Sources (Purdue OWL). Provides information on evaluating bibliographic citations, aspects of evaluation, reading evaluation, print vs. Internet sources, and evaluating Internet sources.
How to Read a Primary Source (Dr. Patrick Rael). Provides tips for the kinds of questions to ask when evaluating a primary source.
Walk, Talk, Cook, Eat: A Guide to Using Sources (WritingSpaces.org). Chapter in Writing Spaces; Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series on writing. The essay presents four metaphors that articulate how to work effectively with sources. The metaphor describes how to analyze source-based assignments and integrate source materials.
Questions to Evaluate the Authority of the Researcher's Methods (WritingCommons.org). Present four standard questions that academic readers ask when reviewing research reports.
Finding and Examining the Sources in Your Sources (WritingCommons.org). Discusses the thought process for determining if a journal article is useful within a research topic.
Evaluating Sources (Berkeley). Guide that provides a series of questions to evaluate sources.
Reviewing the Literature
In addition to the resources below, you may find it helpful to review the resources provided under Conduct a Literature Review in Stage 2. Plan the Essay & Develop Ideas.
Writing a Review of Literature (University of Wisconsin – Madison). Provides a brief overview of writing a review of literature.
Research an Argument & Counter Argument
In addition to the resources below, you may find it helpful to review the resources provided under Establish & Organize an Argument in Stage 1. Analyze the Writing Assignment.
Counterargument (Harvard). Discusses the importance of considering a possible argument against your thesis or some aspect of your reasoning in your writing.
Methodology (Observation, Survey & Interview)
Introduction to Primary Research: Observations, Surveys, and Interviews (WritingSpaces.org). Chapter in Writing Spaces; Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series on writing. The essay introduces definitions of research, examines ethical considerations, compares the research process to the writing process, and provides information about writing from primary research.
Empirical Research (WritingCommons.org). Introduces three common modes of conducting field research: interviews, surveys, and ethnographic observations
Types of Interviews (WritingCommons.org). Provides an overview of common interview formats.
Create a Survey Instrument (WritingCommons.org). Discusses how to develop a well-designed and accurate survey to gather information or data.
Analysis & Evaluation
Introduction to Syntheses (Michigan State University). Defines synthesis and provides techniques for synthesizing.
Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing (Purdue OWL). Handout distinguishes between quotations, paraphrases, and summaries.
In addition to the resources below, you may find it helpful to review the Documenting and Open-Source Writing and Research Software under Online Resources.
Organize Citations (Using Citation Managers) (UNC – Ashville). Provides an overview and assessment of a number of citation machines that help manage your research and format papers (creating bibliographies, citations and footnotes).
Identifying and Prioritizing Elements of a Research Abstract (Northwestern University). Presents five questions to address the elements required in an abstract.
Research & Writing Process Timeline
Developing a Timeline (Air Force Research Institute). Video produced by the Air Force Research Institute (AFRI) as part of the Academic Writing for Airman Video Series. Provides a tutorial on developing a timeline to complete an academic writing assignment.
Assignment Calculator (University of Minnesota Libraries, Center for Writing, & Center for Teaching and Learning Services). An online tool to break down any assignment for any course into manageable steps. Enter today’s date and the due date to generate a series of suggested stages and deadlines.
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