To engage in research is to search for information for a specific purpose and to learn something new. Opportunities for research exist on a variety of levels, from an elementary school classroom where students observe the effects of low-light conditions on bean plants to a university laboratory where researchers analyze the applications of artificial intelligence in robots. In a work environment, there may be a need to gather and interpret historical sales data to make a recommendation on continuing a product line. In your personal life, you may be investigating a medical decision or career change.
Research begins with a question. A simple question may be easily answered by one source, such as consulting an atlas to find the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco. A more complex question will require the use of multiple sources, as well as possible revisions to the original question as you learn more about the subject you are researching.
Because research is a process, your perspective on the topic may change as you apply what you learn to your current knowledge. As your perspective changes, your research needs may change.
To effectively search for information is to understand the information need identify the appropriate information sources, such as books, articles, and other data most useful for your specific purpose use the appropriate tools, such as a library database, to find current and reputable information on a topic
Research opportunities for college students will mostly be secondary research using a broad range of information sources from library research databases, print and electronic books, and the Internet. College-level research requires understanding the basics of responsible scholarship to help you to do your best academic work.
What Is Scholarship?
Scholarship refers to the character, qualities, activity, or attainments of a scholar or of someone engaged in active study and learning. While a student, you are participating in a form of scholarly communication, which is a means of producing new knowledge. Professional scholarship occurs between experts over time, mostly through scholarly publications such as academic journals and books.
Scholars rely on the work of others to provide background information, to support arguments, and to inform their own analysis. Although your instructors expect that in your academic writing you will rely on the works of others, they also expect you to behave with integrity by giving appropriate credit to the words and ideas of others. Academic honesty is a core principle of any scholarly work, and accepted scholarly practice is to cite all of the sources consulted when writing a paper. Neglecting to credit others for their ideas or knowingly presenting another person's idea or product as your own is plagiarism and may lead to disciplinary action. Per UMUC Policy 150.25 - Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism, students found violating the policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including permanent expulsion from the university.
How Can I Avoid Plagiarism?
As UMUC Policy 150.25 - Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism states:
Students can avoid unintentional plagiarism by carefully following accepted scholarly practices. Notes taken for papers and research projects should accurately record sources of material to be cited, quoted, paraphrased, or summarized, and papers and research projects should acknowledge these sources in references.
By being organized in your approach to research and keeping good records of sources consulted, for example in a research log, you will be practicing good scholarship by laying the foundation for an academically honest research paper.
Planning and Organizing Research
A research log is an effective tool for mapping out your research activities and helping you keep track of the research you have done. It can be in whatever format you prefer—print, such as on note cards, or electronic. No