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Research paper: finding a topic and sources

The next assignment (research proposal and annotated bibliography) will be the first step in the process of writing a 1500-2000 word long synthesis research paper on a topic related to the following theme: Natural resources and the environment in Canada

The first task, which is the most important in this process, is to find a topic with a research question and five sources. Your five sources will need to be scholarly or substantive, and they will need to provide a good overview of your topic. At least 4 of these five sources should be research articles, reports or book chapters written by recognized experts in the subject.

In order to find ideas for a topic, you can start by reading popular sources: by doing general internet searches or searches of general publications like the Globe and Mail or MacLean’s. Once you have an idea for your topic, you need to find at least one or two good scholarly sources on the topic. Once you have one or two sources, you can use them to find other sources. You can look at their reference list or the keyword list. If your source is an article from a journal or periodical, you main find related articles in the same publication. You may also try to identify other journals that specialize in the same field. It is important that your sources be recent. The date of publication is a key determinant of the relevance and usability of the source. You will have to skim a lot of sources before you can select five sources that overlap with and complement each other enough to provide a good overview of your topic. Keep in mind that for each main idea of your essay, you will need to cite more than one source. The specific topics of your five sources should overlap to a large extent.

To search for books, use the library catalogue or the topic search on the library home page;

To search for articles, use indexes such as:
• Academic Search Premier
• Omnifile
• Francis
•...
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