How to Write a Research Paper or SCA Class
(FB: Zhelana Skoog)
- 1. Pen
- 2. Highlighter
- 3. Notecards
- 4. Word processor, preferably Scrivener
- 1. Decide on a specific topic, for example, The Spanish Inquisition, or Extant examples of kumihimo.
- 2. Look on google scholar for book reviews or historiography on your topic.
- 3. Select 3ish books to read first.
- 4. Reading for Grad Students – Read the entire introduction and conclusion. Then read the first paragraph and last paragraph of each chapter or section. Read the first sentence of every other paragraph. This isn't a hard and fast rule, and if something catches your interest, by all means read more.
- 5. Do this with a highlighter, and write down important names, dates, events, or other interesting tidbits that catch your attention on your notecards. Make sure you keep track of what source the information on each note card comes from. I like to do this by making a card with the full bibliography information and a number on it, and then mark that number on the corner of each card that I take from that source. Remember to write page numbers down as well. Take notes on what sections you might want to read more fully later. This may be the entire book, or it may be just a few sections.
- 6. You are looking for a basic outline of your topic.
- 7. Mine the book's bibliography for sources you can track down. This may include other books, journal articles, or primary sources.
- 8. Use JSTOR to find relevant articles either that you have found from the books bibliography or through JSTOR's search. Read these in their entirety. Mine their bibliographies for more sources. Don't forget to write down interesting or relevant facts on notecards.
- 9. This is a little controversial, but I always do it. Read the wikipedia article. Don't site wikipedia, but they usually have references for just about everything they say, and you can mine their sources. Just be sure to use the CRAAP method to determine if those sources are valid. They also often have pictures of primary sources that you can track down and use.
- 10. Read the books you collected in the first step, taking notes.
- 11. Begin tracking down primary sources. Write your impressions of each primary source on a notecard.
- 12. When you have enough notecards, it is time to organize your paper. Read through your cards, and begin sorting them into piles that will roughly correspond with paragraphs or sections of your paper.
- 13. In scrivener, make a card that sums up the unifying theme of each pile. OR In word, make an outline with each bullet point summing up the unifying theme of one pile.
- 14. Use your outline to write your prose. Don't forget to document everything that needs to be documented.
- 15. Write your bibliography.