Unit 4: Conducting Research
This Unit Activity will help you meet these educational goals: 21st Century Skills—You will employ online tools for research and analysis, use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, communicate effectively, and assess and validate information.
In this activity, you will learn about the research process and then write a research paper of your own.
Research is a systematic investigation to establish new facts, solve problems, propose new ideas, or develop new theories. A researcher analyzes what is already known about a topic and then extends that knowledge. To guide the research, it is important to verbalize a question at the center of the research.
To begin, a researcher decides what kind of information he or she needs and where to look for it. Sources usually include other published work, such as textbooks, journal articles, and Internet sources. Having examined a wide range of material from different sources, the researcher then decides how much of it is relevant to the topic at hand. Often, there is so much information available that the challenge is to choose the most reliable and accurate sources.
Researchers must accurately represent what they observe or learn from other sources and must not let their personal biases get in the way. They must be careful to document and give credit to all the sources they have used.
It is important to remember that research is not just gathering and compiling information: a researcher has to organize the existing information in a meaningful way, analyze the information found, and add an original contribution to the topic. The contribution may be in the form of new facts, viewpoints, or insights. Research often centers on a single central idea, or thesis, that is supported by a thorough presentation of supporting details.
Directions and Analysis
Task 1: Writing a Research Paper
In this activity, you will write a research paper on a technology invented years ago that has a significant effect on people's lives. Before you start working on this task, read about the research process and learn how to find relevant information.
a. Your research paper should have a clear purpose; that is, it should state a specific opinion on the use of plastic and its effects on the environment and support that opinion with information. Think of a central idea for your research paper: consider both the positive aspects of plastic use and the negative effects of plastic. Your central idea should be based on evaluating the impact of plastic—its effects on people's lives and on the environment. State your central idea in one or two sentences.
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b. Gather four to seven resources about the uses of plastic and its effects on the environment. Look for information that includes the advantages of plastic, such as its adaptability to many purposes, and its disadvantages, such as environmental problems relating to its use. If you use the Internet to gather information, websites in the .edu and .org domains are usually preferable to .com websites. Visit your local library, if necessary, to look for information in journals and books. Identify sources of information that are relevant to your work. Decide which sources you will use in your paper, and make a list of them that includes brief descriptions of the information they contain. Write your list of source citations in MLA style (click the menu options to see how to cite different types of materials, such as books, journals, and websites). Whenever possible, make sure a source is reliable before including it.
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c. Create an outline of the research paper you will write. You outline should contain six sections: • introduction
• first argument
• second argument
• third argument
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