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LANG 3070 - English Communication for Humanities and Social Science Studies II: Research Strategies


These strategies are not "do it once in this order & be done". Instead, they are recommendations for approaches that are often done several times  at different points in your research.

  1. Start with what you have been given
    1. Ideas, information, data,  themes, methods of analysis from  lectures
    2. Ideas, information, data, themes, arguments, from readings
  2.  - Look for clues in your readings (syllabus) - current & past
    1. Main argument, findings  (in abstract? in conclusion?)
    2. Keywords, special terms?
    3. Important authors?
    4. References to other articles, books, statistics  in assigned readings (for your follow-up). Examples:
      1. HUMA - Past two years
        1. Fall 2023 -
        2. Spring 2023 -
        3. Fall 2022 -
        4. Spring 2022 -
      2. SOSC - Past two years
        1.  Fall 2023 -
        2. Spring 2023 - 
        3. Fall 2022 -
        4. Spring 2022 -
  3. Think about the arguments & evidence from the readings and lectures and other info
    1. See if/how they apply to your topic
    2. What questions do they give you?   Start to search for answers or evidence that might lead you to your answer, your theory, your argument.
  4. Search for more answers or evidence (or questions!)  in recommended  with good search tools
  5. Play around:
    1. Free associate with words, ideas, memories
    2. Look at the results for different keywords or authors
    3. See what looks interesting or intriguing, just via titles & journals
  6.  Check for relevance or  what seems fun or interesting in your results, triage, & read, think & search more
  7.  Sample a few - look at the abstract - find one or two that may be good &  citation chain

Scan Results for Relevance

Check for Relevance - Ask Yourself


–Do my terms or ideas related to my terms turn up in the title, abstract, or source title?
–Do some authors keep recurring?

Date or Time

–Does the publication date or title indicate that the time period covered in the item relates to the time period I’m studying?

Amount of results

–Am I getting too much (feeling overwhelmed?)   - Then filter
–Am I getting too little (feeling like there’s nothing to build on) - Then expand

Suitability in general

–What is it?  (video?  Article? Book? Book Chapter)
–How long is it (7 page article? 30 page article, 300 page thesis?)
–Is it appropriately scholarly?
–Is it from a reliable source


1. Quickly scan & look at

  • Title of article or book or chapter
  • Title of journal or book or video
  • Author
  • Publication date
  • Number of pages or minutes

2.Possible items look interesting?

  • Skim abstract
  • Glance at headings, findings, conclusions

3.Choose  carefully before download or print

4. As you read & decide whether you will use it, consider::

  • How it justifies research need 
  • Its research design and methods 
  • Author's reasoning and how they support their claims 
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