The Writing Center

Research Paper progress List

  1. Check the Virtual Reference Desk for any background information on your subject that you might need before you begin:  encyclopedias, dictionaries, fact books.
  1.  Email yourself 30-40 titles exactly on your question from the following sources:
    1. Academic Search Complete (articles that are peer reviewed)
      1. you can check the peer reviewed box
    1. OhioLink (books and book chapters)
      1. you can request a book if CSU doesn’t own it
      2. you can order it from Interlibrary Loan if it’s not in OhioLink
    1. Lexis Nexis (newspaper articles—very recent)
    2. discipline specific databases
      1. you can find these through 2 clicks: 
        1. Research Databases
        2. Databases by Subject

Estimated time for this assignment:  2-4 sittings of 1 ½ hours each
(Note:  if you cannot find enough sources, consult a reference librarian in person or use the Ask a Librarian email service on the library web site.  You could also ask for a tutorial on this process in the Writing Center.)  

  1. Skim these sources and be ruthless:  keep only the ones that directly answer your question and do it well.  Here are some strategies:
    1. press Control and End and you’ll be at the end of the article
    2. page up to the Discussion or Conclusion
    3. read only that
    4. ask yourself whether you are learning something
    5. if not, discard
    6. if you are, page up to see whether you’d read it
    7. set it aside for later


  1. Of the sources that you kept, which are the absolute best?
    1. put them in order
    2. take a look at the bibliography of the best source(s)
    3. go find any other sources you think might help you from that bibliography
    4. take your time and read only these best sources!

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