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Candice Dahl, Liason Librarian

Research Advice

Can you offer some advice for writing a research essay?

One thing that I've noticed is that students who expect that research will just take a short amount of time, and that they'll be able to gather all of their resources in one shot, are often the students who get frustrated. So, what I would suggest to students is that they plan to make two, at least two, seperate research trips whether that be a virtual trip, through the library's website, or a physical trip into the library. What we find is that as students read the initial resources that they find, sometimes their research question changes or their needs change... and so they should expect to have at least a couple of research sessions, and the length of those will depend, of course, on the complexity of the research topic. So, coming in an hour before class An order to do the research, a challenge that just cannot always be met. So, I think the first thing I would say is, 'plan to make multiple ...have multiple research sessions,' for sure. The other thing that I would say is very important is that students understand the terms that are used and the parameters that have been set for them. There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours and hours to find this particular book or journal article, when you then go back and read the parameters realizing that that's not something that you are to use. Or to forget that you need peer-reviewed articles and instead you have found things from Maclean's or Time. So, understand what those words mean. Don't assume that you know, if you're not absolutely sure... that would be really important. And, I would say that asking a librarian sooner rather than later for help is an important tip that will help people get where they need to be in a more manageable fashion and time frame, definitely. And, just from my own experience, being a humanities scholar who has done both English and History degrees, the more you read the easier it is to write. And, so that might be going beyond the scope of what the library can do for you, but I think that if you can find more resources, and appropriate ones, and read them, you'd be amazed at how much easier it is to write that ten-page paper.