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New York Automotive & Diesel Institute LIBRARY: Research & Writing

The road to knowledge.

WHAT IS RESEARCH?

Research means a formal method of using data to prove or disprove a theory.  The data can be derived from a physical experiment or gathered from other researchers' documents.  This is a high level process and not to be confused with looking up some facts and using them to back up your ideas on a subject.  

I prefer the term, "search",  for student's papers.  You need to search for information (data) to support the topic or thesis of your papers.  Your search needs to be effective - produce good quality information, and efficient - do it in a minimum amount of time.  

The NYADI Library materials and access to online resources has everything you may need to fulfill your instructor's requirements writing assignments.  See the boxes below for more information.

With the help of your instructor and the Library staff and training with your writing and thinking skills, you can be an "A" student.

GETTING STARTED ON A PAPER

As soon as you are assigned a paper, you should do your search for information.  If you can write it up at the last minute - fine.  But if you don't have the materials you need, or your sources indicate that you should have changed your topic, you are in trouble.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose a topic you are interested in or, if the topic is assigned, find some interesting aspect of it.
  • Do some general research (definitions, for example or encyclopedia articles) and write down what you already know or believe about the topic.  Make an outline.  
  • NARROW the topic to a subject that is possible for the paper length
  • Think of some keywords that are specific enough
  • Select the proper resource to search,  i.e. news, books, magazines, industry websites, etc.
  • Make sure to document each source taken from the internet as you print it out so you won't have to find it again for your bibliography
  • Write up your findings IN YOUR OWN WORDS and with your own conclusion.

 

 

FREE CITATION AND BIBLIOGRAPHY PROGRAMS

What is a citation?  How do I create one?  The following programs will help you to formulate correct citations for books, magazines and newspapers, websites, pictures and other graphics, and every other form of document.  Try them out and choose the one just right for you.  

NARROWING A TOPIC

Can you write about the history of the world in one page?  Of course not.  When we are assigned a paper on World History, we need to narrow the topic to one which will fit into the space and allow room for our interpretation.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Time, "July 4, 1776, the world is changed"
  • Place, "The Antarctic in World History"
  • Sub topic, "The Roman Empire's view of the world"
  • Interpretation, "What is World History?"
  • Point of view: "How the Ancient Greeks defined history"

Once you've found an angle of interest, your resources will be limited, and you can get a better idea of what you want to say about the facts and opinions you have found.

A SIMPLE OUTLINE METHOD

The word, "essay", is from the French "essai" which means a trial.  In other words, it means a reasoned argument to prove or disprove an idea or statement and make a judgment.    

The easiest way that I have found to outline an essay is to pose a series of questions and answer them.  A good starting point is the journalist's "who, what, when, where, why and, sometimes how".

Let us say that you are assigned a short paper on the internal combustion engine.  The following questions could guide you:

  • What is an internal combustion engine? Who invented it? When?
  • How does it work?
  • What did it replace?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the problems?
  • Are there alternatives?
  • Which is best?  Why?
  • How has this invention changed the world?

(I'm sure that each one of us could make a different set of equally valid questions.)

In finding answers for basic questions, you might become interested in another plan.  Go for it - personal interest makes writing easier and more convincing.  

Remember an essay is a trial.  Find something you are interested in and write as if you are trying to convince someone else.