1. Locate background information.
- use encyclopedia articles to find keywords (terminology, words for narrowing topic, important scholars) and citations to other materials.
2. Develop and narrow your topic; form an issue or research question.
3. Find research materials you may use in your paper.
- books, journal articles
4. Evaluate and select materials that you will use in your paper.
5. Write draft, cite sources, and write final paper.
- use an approved citation format, and consult style manuals as needed.
- begin writing early.
If you are interested in researching historical dances from primary sources, Professor Richard Powers of Stanford University offers helpful suggestions here.
When evaluating the quality of an information source, remember to examine:
Purpose / Point of View
Here are some questions to ask yourself for each category:
Currency - How current is the information? Is the age of the publication likely to affect the conclusions drawn by the author?
Reliability - Does this work present you with high quality information? Is your topic treated as the main subject, or is it peripheral? Does the information support or disprove your thesis? Is the resource useful to your research need?
Authority - Who is the author of the work, and what are his/her credentials? Who published the work - a scholarly press, a commercial publisher, or is it self-published? If it is an online resource, can you determine who the author is?
Purpose/Point of View - What is the purpose of the resource? Is it to inform, entertain, etc? Is the purpose clearly outlined in the foreword or introduction? Is the work's audience an expert in the field or a layperson?