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Writing 2 (Terhaar): Research Projects


Welcome to the “Across the Disciplines” library research guide, designed by Writing Program faculty member Terry Terhaar and McHenry Instructional Librarian Annette Marines to help you navigate the process of conducting research for your Writing 2 or Core 80B class.

Why use this guide?

Students enter UCSC writing classes with many impressive online research skills, but they often have little awareness that their methods for conducting research and writing papers rarely produce an excellent college-level research assignment. Why do the methods learned in high school rarely work in college?

College teachers see the writing of a research assignment/paper as an intellectual effort, an effort that engages you in deep (usually analytical, interpretive, and/or critical) thinking about a subject. When they read your paper, they want to see a new idea or a new way of looking at something. They do not want to see you:

1) conduct a treasure hunt, locating just enough online information to support your point because this method rarely makes a compelling argument, or

2) write a record of everything you found when you did some research because this method produces broad, unfocused papers that rarely struggle intellectually with a real question or position.

Instead, they want you to start doing research similar to that conducted by scholars in the humanities or social sciences or people in professional fields such as business, engineering, health care, or law.

If your previous experience conducting research produced papers that resembled those described in #1 or #2 above, then this guide was written for you. As you read through each page of instructions, we will describe some common research problems. We’ll also describe some strategies for avoiding those problems and producing excellent research assignments.

Conducting research and writing excellent research papers takes time and effort (and sometimes a little perseverance!), but the process is not mysterious. We enjoy doing research, and we want you to enjoy doing it, too! Good luck!