Researching is really about questing. It's about questioning. It's about having a question, thesis, problem, idea, proposal, belief, opinion, goal, or any other intellectual or heartfelt notion that needs looking into. Writing research in college and professional settings is about asking questions, and knowing where to find information, about knowing how to evaluate information, to record sources, to keep records, to engage the ideas, synthesize them, work with them and present them in the ways appropriate to a given field, rhetorical situation or purpose.
So no wonder it's hard to teach research. But online writing tools help immensely:
Here are Other Resources That Can Help you Teach Research
- File sharing helps with record keeping--the recording of drafts.
- Online discussions--real time and over time--help students explore ideas in their own words.
- Responding to texts posted online helps students read carefully and critically.
- Sharing sources and posting annotated bibliographies online helps students become research colleagues for one another.
- Collecting and reading drafts, helps students keep organized, helps break the research process into manageable steps--two important skills students need to learn--and along the way, this sound and common-sense pedagogy decreases exponentially the likelihood of plagiarism.
- Research Assistant HyperFolio is a new CDROM based tool from Bedford/St. Martin's authored by Mike Palmquist, Professor of English at Colorado State University, and LTI, a software company. It's key benefit: Upon downloading a source from the WWW or any digital environment (including a library's online catalogue accessed via the Web), students are prompted to write a summary note or annotation, record the bibliographic information, and to evaluate the source on a note card. Sources are stored in collections, and all the note card information is always linked to the source (no more going back to a bookmark and finding the link gone). The program generates bibliographies and collections items can be dragged to a worksheet area and saved as html files. These files can be uploaded to course web sites (File Sharing!), and teachers and classmates can review the sources.
- The English Research Room by Mike Palmquist mirrors content originally written for the Colorado State University Writing Center (itself an excellent resource). It offers units on using sources and interactive tutorials on how to use search engines and databases.
- Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age by Diana Hacker is a free online research and citation guide you can link to from any course web page you have. The URL is http://www.dianahacker.com/resdoc/.
- The Bedford Handbook Companion Website offers electronic exercises on research, including exercises on plagiarism and writing thesis statements. These are free, and teachers can click to the instructor's version of the site and learn how to sign into the site to view the results of exercises their students complete.