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GSW 1120: Academic Writing: The Pre-Search Essay

Picking a topic

Can't think of what to write? Take a look in the news. Keep in mind that you'll want to pick something you're passionate about, as you'll spend quite a bit of time with this topic!

-Check out some reports on today's issues.

-Browse through different opinions on hot topics and see if anything gets you in the mood to write a research paper. 

-Take a leaf out of Georgia College's topics tree, blooming with questions for research papers. 

Developing your research question

Developing that overarching research question for your presearch essay can be tricky. Here's a video with some tips.

How to choose a topic

Organizing your research

Before you begin your research, you'll want to come up with a system to keep your research organized. That way, you can generate citations as you go, and you can also have some notes on what the source is about for when you start writing. Using a system similar to the one presented in the document below, called the  "Research Organizer," can help you keep your thoughts organized as you research. It can also help with your annotated bibliography, because you'll already have most of the work done if you fill this sheet out as you conduct your research. 

Seeing synthesis

Remember that a big part of the research essay is synthesis, or recognizing the relationship between sources, and recognizing that the ideas of a source exist in a conversation of ideas that takes place on the page. Do your sources agree, disagree, or build upon one another? This can be tricky to figure out, and using a graphic organizer can help you see, visually, the relationship between sources. Download the document below for one such organizing tool!