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WILD 2200: Research Paper Tips


Research Paper Tips

Write your topic as a question.

Example: What are the effects of federal regulations on air quality in major United States cities?

Select the main keywords or phrases for your question.

Example: "air quality," federal, regulation, city or cities, United States

Identify synonyms or related concepts.

Synonyms are different words (or sometimes phrases) with identical or very similar meanings. Since you cannot know what terms every author may use for the same concept(s), it is useful to experiment with different words or phrases.  

For "air quality," also consider:

  • atmosphere, characteristics, pollution   

For "federal," also consider:

  • national, central, centralized 

For "regulation," also consider:

  • rule, directive, guideline, law, decree

For "United States," also consider:

  • "United States of America, US, America

Assignment Handout

The following handout is a step by step guide to completing your library research project.

Scholarly vs. Popular

 List of References   Yes   Usually no references listed
 Author   Expert or professional and credentials are provided   Journalist, student, or no name provided 
 Reading Level  Advanced, often with specialized vocabulary   Easy to read
 Purpose   Report research findings   Overview, opinions, or general information
 Article submission   Articles are reviewed by other experts   Review by editor and editorial staff
 Article format   Has introduction, methods, results, etc.   Typically no set format

Scholarly Articles

Also referred to as "peer reviewed," these articles are written by experts in the field. They generally report the findings of research and the information is supported by a bibliography at the end of the article. The author's affiliation is usually stated. Articles tend to be very specific in nature. The peer review process requires articles to be evaluated by other experts in the field before the article is published. This ensures the article is reporting sound research.

Some journals will contain both scholarly and popular articles! Be sure to check each article to see that it meets the criteria for a scholarly article before using it in your paper. Contact me if you need help with this.

Here's an example of a scholarly article:

Harrop, M. (2007, December). Psychosocial impact of cystic fibrosis in adolescence. Paediatric Nursing, 19(10), 41-45

View this article.

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