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The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project

Student resources.

Examples of Student Research Projects

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11.3 Managing Your Research Project

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons for outlining the scope and sequence of a research project.
  • Recognize the steps of the research writing process.
  • Develop a plan for managing time and resources to complete the research project on time.
  • Identify organizational tools and strategies to use in managing the project.

The prewriting you have completed so far has helped you begin to plan the content of your research paper—your topic, research questions, and preliminary thesis. It is equally important to plan out the process of researching and writing the paper. Although some types of writing assignments can be completed relatively quickly, developing a good research paper is a complex process that takes time. Breaking it into manageable steps is crucial. Review the steps outlined at the beginning of this chapter.

Steps to Writing a Research Paper

  • Choose a topic.
  • Schedule and plan time for research and writing.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

You have already completed step 1. In this section, you will complete step 2. The remaining steps fall under two broad categories—the research phase of the project (steps 3 and 4) and the writing phase (steps 5 and 6). Both phases present challenges. Understanding the tasks involved and allowing enough time to complete each task will help you complete your research paper on time with a minimal amount of stress.

Planning Your Project

Each step of a research project requires time and attention. Careful planning helps ensure that you will keep your project running smoothly and produce your best work. Set up a project schedule that shows when you will complete each step. Think about how you will complete each step and what project resources you will use. Resources may include anything from library databases and word-processing software to interview subjects and writing tutors.

To develop your schedule, use a calendar and work backward from the date your final draft is due. Generally, it is wise to divide half of the available time on the research phase of the project and half on the writing phase. For example, if you have a month to work, plan for two weeks for each phase. If you have a full semester, plan to begin research early and to start writing by the middle of the term. You might think that no one really works that far ahead, but try it. You will probably be pleased with the quality of your work and with the reduction in your stress level.

As you plan, break down major steps into smaller tasks if necessary. For example, step 3, conducting research, involves locating potential sources, evaluating their usefulness and reliability, reading, and taking notes. Defining these smaller tasks makes the project more manageable by giving you concrete goals to achieve.

Jorge had six weeks to complete his research project. Working backward from a due date of May 2, he mapped out a schedule for completing his research by early April so that he would have ample time to write. Jorge chose to write his schedule in his weekly planner to help keep himself on track.

Review Jorge’s schedule. Key target dates are shaded. Note that Jorge planned times to use available resources by visiting the library and writing center and by meeting with his instructor.

Jorge's schedule

  • Working backward from the date your final draft is due, create a project schedule. You may choose to write a sequential list of tasks or record tasks on a calendar.
  • Check your schedule to be sure that you have broken each step into smaller tasks and assigned a target completion date to each key task.
  • Review your target dates to make sure they are realistic. Always allow a little more time than you think you will actually need.

Plan your schedule realistically, and consider other commitments that may sometimes take precedence. A business trip or family visit may mean that you are unable to work on the research project for a few days. Make the most of the time you have available. Plan for unexpected interruptions, but keep in mind that a short time away from the project may help you come back to it with renewed enthusiasm. Another strategy many writers find helpful is to finish each day’s work at a point when the next task is an easy one. That makes it easier to start again.

Writing at Work

When you create a project schedule at work, you set target dates for completing certain tasks and identify the resources you plan to use on the project. It is important to build in some flexibility. Materials may not be received on time because of a shipping delay. An employee on your team may be called away to work on a higher-priority project. Essential equipment may malfunction. You should always plan for the unexpected.

Staying Organized

Although setting up a schedule is easy, sticking to one is challenging. Even if you are the rare person who never procrastinates, unforeseen events may interfere with your ability to complete tasks on time. A self-imposed deadline may slip your mind despite your best intentions. Organizational tools—calendars, checklists, note cards, software, and so forth—can help you stay on track.

Throughout your project, organize both your time and your resources systematically. Review your schedule frequently and check your progress. It helps to post your schedule in a place where you will see it every day. Both personal and workplace e-mail systems usually include a calendar feature where you can record tasks, arrange to receive daily reminders, and check off completed tasks. Electronic devices such as smartphones have similar features.

Organize project documents in a binder or electronic folder, and label project documents and folders clearly. Use note cards or an electronic document to record bibliographical information for each source you plan to use in your paper. Tracking this information throughout the research process can save you hours of time when you create your references page.

Revisit the schedule you created in Note 11.42 “Exercise 1” . Transfer it into a format that will help you stay on track from day to day. You may wish to input it into your smartphone, write it in a weekly planner, post it by your desk, or have your e-mail account send you daily reminders. Consider setting up a buddy system with a classmate that will help you both stay on track.

Some people enjoy using the most up-to-date technology to help them stay organized. Other people prefer simple methods, such as crossing off items on a checklist. The key to staying organized is finding a system you like enough to use daily. The particulars of the method are not important as long as you are consistent.

Anticipating Challenges

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? You have identified a book that would be a great resource for your project, but it is currently checked out of the library. You planned to interview a subject matter expert on your topic, but she calls to reschedule your meeting. You have begun writing your draft, but now you realize that you will need to modify your thesis and conduct additional research. Or you have finally completed your draft when your computer crashes, and days of hard work disappear in an instant.

These troubling situations are all too common. No matter how carefully you plan your schedule, you may encounter a glitch or setback. Managing your project effectively means anticipating potential problems, taking steps to minimize them where possible, and allowing time in your schedule to handle any setbacks.

Many times a situation becomes a problem due only to lack of planning. For example, if a book is checked out of your local library, it might be available through interlibrary loan, which usually takes a few days for the library staff to process. Alternatively, you might locate another, equally useful source. If you have allowed enough time for research, a brief delay will not become a major setback.

You can manage other potential problems by staying organized and maintaining a take-charge attitude. Take a minute each day to save a backup copy of your work on a portable hard drive. Maintain detailed note cards and source cards as you conduct research—doing so will make citing sources in your draft infinitely easier. If you run into difficulties with your research or your writing, ask your instructor for help, or make an appointment with a writing tutor.

Identify five potential problems you might encounter in the process of researching and writing your paper. Write them on a separate sheet of paper. For each problem, write at least one strategy for solving the problem or minimizing its effect on your project.

In the workplace, documents prepared at the beginning of a project often include a detailed plan for risk management. When you manage a project, it makes sense to anticipate and prepare for potential setbacks. For example, to roll out a new product line, a software development company must strive to complete tasks on a schedule in order to meet the new product release date. The project manager may need to adjust the project plan if one or more tasks fall behind schedule.

Key Takeaways

  • To complete a research project successfully, a writer must carefully manage each phase of the process and break major steps into smaller tasks.
  • Writers can plan a research project by setting up a schedule based on the deadline and by identifying useful project resources.
  • Writers stay focused by using organizational tools that suit their needs.
  • Anticipating and planning for potential setbacks can help writers avoid those setbacks or minimize their effect on the project schedule.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Benedictine University Library

Research Basics: Understanding the Assignment

  • Understanding the Assignment
  • Choosing a Research Topic
  • Refining a Research Topic
  • Developing a Research Question
  • Deciding What Types of Sources You Will Need
  • Types of Sources
  • Search Techniques
  • Find Books & eBooks This link opens in a new window
  • Choose a Database / Find Articles
  • Find Articles Using the EBSCO Articles tab
  • Find Journals
  • Find Websites using Google
  • Find Articles Using Google Scholar
  • Find Government Documents This link opens in a new window
  • Find Statistics This link opens in a new window
  • Interlibrary Loan This link opens in a new window
  • How to evaluate your sources This link opens in a new window
  • Primary vs. Secondary Sources This link opens in a new window
  • Popular vs. Scholary This link opens in a new window
  • Wheel of Sources
  • Incorporate Sources into Your Research Paper
  • Paraphrasing
  • Voice Markers
  • Using Source Material to Develop/Support an Argument
  • Reasons to Cite Your Sources
  • Citation & Style Guides This link opens in a new window
  • Learning Checks
  • Open Access Educational Resources
  • Research Help

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Read the Assignment Carefully

Reading your assignment carefully can make a huge difference. Here are things to look for in the assignment instructions:

  • Purpose of the assignment.  What should your research project accomplish? What is the role of research and of information sources in the assignment? This will help you determine your research process and timeline. (If you still have questions after closely reading the assignment, ask your instructor.)  
  • Topic guidance and suggestions . Some instructors offer specific suggestions, while others provide guidelines to help you choose a topic yourself. Check for points and questions the instructor wants you to address in your assignment.  
  • Type(s) of recommended sources  for supporting your research.  Think about where you might need to look for the recommended sources. Some will be available through the Benedictine Library collection, and some may be freely available on the Web. For more information see What Types of Sources Do You Need? .  
  • Due date . This will help you determine when you need to start finding sources, reading and analyzing them, and developing your paper or project. Some assignments have different parts due at different times, so check all the due dates.  To help you manage your time, you may wish to use the Benedictine Library Research Project Calculator  
  • Length of the assignment . This will help you determine the scope of your  topic.   
  • Style and formatting information , such as font size, spacing, and citation style. This Citation Guides  guide can help with this.

Highlight and Underline

Highlight or underline the elements that are key to understanding your assignment. If you cannot describe what your assignment is about to someone else, re-read the assignment sheet or talk with your instructor.

Source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Understanding Assignments (handout)
  • << Previous: Step 1: Develop a Topic
  • Next: Choosing a Research Topic >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 2, 2024 11:54 AM
  • URL: https://researchguides.ben.edu/research-basics

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Designing Research Assignments: Assignment Ideas

  • Student Research Needs
  • Assignment Guidelines
  • Assignment Ideas
  • Scaffolding Research Assignments
  • BEAM Method

Assignment Templates

Research diaries offer students an opportunity to reflect on the research process, think about how they will address challenges they encounter, and encourage students to think about and adjust their strategies. 

  • Research Diary Template
  • Research Diary Instructions

Alternative Assignments

There are many different types of assignments that can help your students develop their information literacy and research skills. 

The assignments listed below target different skills, and some may be more suitable for certain courses than others.

  • << Previous: Assignment Guidelines
  • Next: Scaffolding Research Assignments >>
  • Last Updated: Jun 9, 2022 12:23 PM
  • URL: https://columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com/designing_assignments
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How to Get Started With a Research Project

Last Updated: October 3, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Chris Hadley, PhD . Chris Hadley, PhD is part of the wikiHow team and works on content strategy and data and analytics. Chris Hadley earned his PhD in Cognitive Psychology from UCLA in 2006. Chris' academic research has been published in numerous scientific journals. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 310,358 times.

You'll be required to undertake and complete research projects throughout your academic career and even, in many cases, as a member of the workforce. Don't worry if you feel stuck or intimidated by the idea of a research project, with care and dedication, you can get the project done well before the deadline!

Development and Foundation

Step 1 Brainstorm an idea or identify a problem or question.

  • Don't hesitate while writing down ideas. You'll end up with some mental noise on the paper – silly or nonsensical phrases that your brain just pushes out. That's fine. Think of it as sweeping the cobwebs out of your attic. After a minute or two, better ideas will begin to form (and you might have a nice little laugh at your own expense in the meantime).

Step 2 Use the tools you've already been given.

  • Some instructors will even provide samples of previously successful topics if you ask for them. Just be careful that you don't end up stuck with an idea you want to do, but are afraid to do because you know someone else did it before.

Step 4 Think from all angles.

  • For example, if your research topic is “urban poverty,” you could look at that topic across ethnic or sexual lines, but you could also look into corporate wages, minimum wage laws, the cost of medical benefits, the loss of unskilled jobs in the urban core, and on and on. You could also try comparing and contrasting urban poverty with suburban or rural poverty, and examine things that might be different about both areas, such as diet and exercise levels, or air pollution.

Step 5 Synthesize specific topics.

  • Think in terms of questions you want answered. A good research project should collect information for the purpose of answering (or at least attempting to answer) a question. As you review and interconnect topics, you'll think of questions that don't seem to have clear answers yet. These questions are your research topics.

Step 7 Brush across information you have access to.

  • Don't limit yourself to libraries and online databases. Think in terms of outside resources as well: primary sources, government agencies, even educational TV programs. If you want to know about differences in animal population between public land and an Indian reservation, call the reservation and see if you can speak to their department of fish and wildlife.
  • If you're planning to go ahead with original research, that's great – but those techniques aren't covered in this article. Instead, speak with qualified advisors and work with them to set up a thorough, controlled, repeatable process for gathering information.

Step 8 Clearly define your project.

  • If your plan comes down to “researching the topic,” and there aren't any more specific things you can say about it, write down the types of sources you plan to use instead: books (library or private?), magazines (which ones?), interviews, and so on. Your preliminary research should have given you a solid idea of where to begin.

Expanding Your Idea with Research

Step 1 Start with the basics.

  • It's generally considered more convincing to source one item from three different authors who all agree on it than it is to rely too heavily on one book. Go for quantity at least as much as quality. Be sure to check citations, endnotes, and bibliographies to get more potential sources (and see whether or not all your authors are just quoting the same, older author).
  • Writing down your sources and any other relevant details (such as context) around your pieces of information right now will save you lots of trouble in the future.

Step 2 Move outward.

  • Use many different queries to get the database results you want. If one phrasing or a particular set of words doesn't yield useful results, try rephrasing it or using synonymous terms. Online academic databases tend to be dumber than the sum of their parts, so you'll have to use tangentially related terms and inventive language to get all the results you want.

Step 3 Gather unusual sources.

  • If it's sensible, consider heading out into the field and speaking to ordinary people for their opinions. This isn't always appropriate (or welcomed) in a research project, but in some cases, it can provide you with some excellent perspective for your research.
  • Review cultural artifacts as well. In many areas of study, there's useful information on attitudes, hopes, and/or concerns of people in a particular time and place contained within the art, music, and writing they produced. One has only to look at the woodblock prints of the later German Expressionists, for example, to understand that they lived in a world they felt was often dark, grotesque, and hopeless. Song lyrics and poetry can likewise express strong popular attitudes.

Step 4 Review and trim.

Expert Q&A

Chris Hadley, PhD

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  • Start early. The foundation of a great research project is the research, which takes time and patience to gather even if you aren't performing any original research of your own. Set aside time for it whenever you can, at least until your initial gathering phase is complete. Past that point, the project should practically come together on its own. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • When in doubt, write more, rather than less. It's easier to pare down and reorganize an overabundance of information than it is to puff up a flimsy core of facts and anecdotes. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

assignment research project

  • Respect the wishes of others. Unless you're a research journalist, it's vital that you yield to the wishes and requests of others before engaging in original research, even if it's technically ethical. Many older American Indians, for instance, harbor a great deal of cultural resentment towards social scientists who visit reservations for research, even those invited by tribal governments for important reasons such as language revitalization. Always tread softly whenever you're out of your element, and only work with those who want to work with you. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 2
  • Be mindful of ethical concerns. Especially if you plan to use original research, there are very stringent ethical guidelines that must be followed for any credible academic body to accept it. Speak to an advisor (such as a professor) about what you plan to do and what steps you should take to verify that it will be ethical. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2

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  • ↑ http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/research/research_paper.html
  • ↑ https://www.nhcc.edu/academics/library/doing-library-research/basic-steps-research-process
  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185905
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/using-an-interview-in-a-research-paper
  • ↑ https://www.science.org/content/article/how-review-paper

About This Article

Chris Hadley, PhD

The easiest way to get started with a research project is to use your notes and other materials to come up with topics that interest you. Research your favorite topic to see if it can be developed, and then refine it into a research question. Begin thoroughly researching, and collect notes and sources. To learn more about finding reliable and helpful sources while you're researching, continue reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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There are various types of assignments: essays, annotated bibliographies, stand-alone literature reviews, reflective writing essays, etc. There will be a specific structure to follow for each of these. Before focusing on the structure, it is best to plan your assignment first. Your school will have its own guidelines and instructions, you should align with those. Start by selecting the essential aspects that need to be included in your assignment.

Based on what you understand from the assignment in question, evaluate the critical points that should be made. If the task is research-based, discuss your aims and objectives, research method, and results. For an argumentative essay, you need to construct arguments relevant to the thesis statement.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A group project is a cooperative learning assignment that requires students to work with peer group members to plan, discuss, and complete a specific project, often over the course of an entire semester. The project can be a research paper, an in-class oral presentation, an out-of-class study project, or research contributed as part of a larger class project involving multiple student groups . The purpose is to prepare students to work collaboratively in order to develop the intellectual and social skills needed to examine research problems from a variety of perspectives, to communicate effectively with their peers, and to evaluate and resolve issues on their own with support from other group members.

Burke, Alison. “Group Work: How to Use Groups Effectively.” The Journal of Effective Teaching 11 (2011): 87-95; Colbeck, Carol L., Susan E. Campbell, and Stefani A. Bjorklund. “Grouping in the Dark: What College Students Learn from Group Projects.” The Journal of Higher Education 71 (January - February, 2000): 60-83; Using Group Projects Effectively. Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University; Williams, Katherine. Group Work Benefits and Examples. Study.com.

Benefits of Group Work

As stressful as it can be, group work can actually be beneficial in the long run because it closely parallels the dynamics of serving on a committee, participating in a task force, or working on a collaborative project found in most professional workplace settings. Whatever form the group assignment takes in your course, the opportunity to work with others, rather than on your own, can provide distinct benefits. These include:

  • Increased productivity and performance -- groups that work well together can achieve much more than individuals working on their own. A broader range of skills can be applied to practical activities and the process of sharing and discussing ideas can play a pivotal role in deepening your understanding of the research problem. This process also enhances opportunities for applying strategies of critical inquiry and creative or radical problem-solving to an issue.
  • Skills development -- being part of a team will help you develop your interpersonal skills. This can include expressing your ideas clearly, listening carefully to others, participating effectively in group deliberations, and clearly articulating to group members t he results of your research . Group work can also help develop collaborative skills, such as, team-based leadership and effectively motivating others. These skills will be useful throughout your academic career and all are highly sought after by employers.
  • Knowing more about yourself -- working with others will help identify your own strengths and weaknesses in a collaborative context. For example, you may be a better leader than listener, or, you might be good at coming up with the 'big idea' but not so good at developing a specific plan of action. Enhanced self-awareness about the challenges you may have in working with others will enhance overall learning experiences. Here again, this sense about yourself will be invaluable when you enter the workforce.

Colbeck, Carol L., Susan E. Campbell, and Stefani A. Bjorklund. “Grouping in the Dark: What College Students Learn from Group Projects.” The Journal of Higher Education 71 (January - February, 2000): 60-83; Collaborative Learning/Learning with Peers. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Golde, Chris M. Tips for Successful Writing Groups. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Presented November, 1994; Updated November, 1996 at Association for the Study of Higher Education; Howard, Rebecca Moore. "Collaborative Pedagogy." In Composition Pedagogies: A Bibliographic Guide . Gary Tate, Amy Rupiper, and Kurt Schick, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 54-71; Thom, Michael. "Are Group Assignments Effective Pedagogy or a Waste of Time? A Review of the Literature and Implications for Practice." Teaching Public Administration 38 (2020): 257-269;

Stages of Group Work

I.  Getting Started

To ensure that your group gets off to a good start, it may be beneficial to:

  • Take time for all members to introduce themselves, including name, background, and stating specific strengths in contributing to the overall goals of the assignment.
  • Nominate or vote to have someone act as the group leader or facilitator or scheduler. If the burden might be too great, consider deciding to rotate this responsibility among all group members.
  • Exchange current contact information, such as, email addresses, social media information, and cell phone numbers.
  • Consider creating an online workspace account to facilitate discussions, editing documents, sharing files, exchanging ideas, and to manage a group calendar. There are many free online platforms available for this type of work such as Google docs.

II.  Discussing Goals and Tasks

After you and the other members of the group agree about how to approach the assignment, take time to make sure everyone understands what it is they will need to achieve. Consider the following:

  • What are the goals of the assignment? Develop a shared understanding of the assignment's expected learning outcomes to ensure that everyone knows what their role is supposed to be within the group.
  • Note when the assignment is due [or when each part is due] so that everyone is on the same schedule and any potential conflicts with assignment due dates in other classes can be addressed ahead of time by each members of the group.
  • Discuss how you are going to specifically meet the requirements of the assignment. For example, if the assignment is to write a sample research grant, what topic are you going to research and what organizations would you solicit funding from?
  • If your professor allows considerable flexibility in pursuing the goals of the assignment, it often helps to brainstorm a number of ideas and then assess the merits of each one separately. As a group, reflect upon the following questions: How much do you know about this topic already? Is the topic interesting to everyone? If it is not interesting to some, they may not be motivated to work as hard as they might on a topic they found interesting. Can you do a good job on this topic in the available time? With the available people? With the available resources? How easy or hard would it be to obtain good information on the topic? [ NOTE:   Consult with a librarian before assuming that information may be too difficult to find!].

III.  Planning and Preparation

This is the stage when your group should plan exactly what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and determine who should do what. Pay attention to the following:

  • Work together to break the project up into separate tasks and decide on the tasks or sub-tasks each member is responsible for. Make sure that work is equally distributed among each member of the group.
  • Agree on the due-dates for completing each task, keeping in mind that members will need time to review any draft documents and the group must have time at the end to pull everything together.
  • Develop mechanisms for keeping in touch, meeting periodically, and the preferred methods for sharing information. Discuss and identify any potential stumbling blocks that may arise that could hinder your work [e.g., mid-terms].

NOTE:   Try to achieve steps 1, 2, and 3 in a group meeting that is scheduled as soon as possible after you have received the assignment and your group has been formed. The sooner these preliminary tasks are agreed upon, the sooner each group member can focus on their particular responsibilities.

IV.  Implementation

While each member carries out their individual tasks, it is important to preserve your group's focus and sense of purpose. Effective communication is vital, particularly when your group activity extends over an extended period of time. Here are some tips to promote good communication:

  • Keep in touch with each other frequently, reporting progress regularly. When the group meets for the first time, think about about setting up a regular day and time for people to report on their progress [either in-person or online].
  • If someone is having trouble completing his or her area of responsibility, work with that person to figure out how to solve the problem. Be supportive and helpful, but don't offer to do other people's work.
  • At the same time, make it clear that the group is depending on everyone to do their part; all group members should agree that it is detrimental to everyone in the group for one person to show up at the last minute without his or her work done.

V.  Finishing Up

Be sure to leave enough time to put all the pieces together before the group project is due and to make sure nothing has been forgotten [e.g., someone forgot to correct a chart or a page is missing]. Synthesizing each group member's work usually requires some negotiation and, collectively, overcoming any existing obstacles towards completion. Technically, this can be done online, but it is better to meet in person to ensure that everyone is actively involved in the process.

If your group has to give a presentation about the results of their research, go through the same process--decide who is going to do what and give everyone enough time to prepare and practice ahead of time [preferably together]. At this point before the assignment is due, it is vital to ensure that you pay particular attention to detail, tie up any loose ends, and review the research project together as a team rather than just looking over individual contributions.

VI.  Writing Up Your Project

Writing the group report can be challenging; it is critical that you leave enough time for this final stage. If your group decided to divide responsibility for drafting sections, you will need to nominate a member of the group [if not done so already] to bring everything together so that the narrative flows well and isn't disjointed. Make it their assignment rather than assigning that person to also write a section of the report. It is best to choose whomever in your group is the best writer because careful copy editing at this stage is essential to ensure that the final document is well organized and logically structured.

Focus on the following:

  • Have all the writers in your group use the same writing style [e.g., verb tense, diction or word choice, tone, voice, etc.]?
  • Are there smooth transitions between individual sections?
  • Are the citations to sources, abbreviations, and non-textual elements [charts, graphs, tables, etc.] consistent?

Barkley, Elizabeth F., Claire Howell Major, and K. Patricia Cross. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty . 2nd edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2014; Boud, David, Ruth Cohen, and Jane Sampson, editors. Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning from and with Each Other . Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2001; Collaborative Learning/Learning with Peers. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Espey, Molly. "Enhancing Critical Thinking using Team-Based Learning." Higher Education Research and Development 37 (2018): 15-29; Howard, Rebecca Moore. "Collaborative Pedagogy." In Composition Pedagogies: A Bibliographic Guide . Gary Tate, Amy Rupiper, and Kurt Schick, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). 54-71; INDOT Group Work and Report Planning Handout. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Working in Groups. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra; Working in Groups. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Group Writing. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Golde, Chris M. Tips for Successful Writing Groups. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Presented November, 1994; Updated November, 1996 at Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Meeting Places

Where Your Group Meets Matters!

Choosing where to you meet can have as much of an impact on your group's overall success as how well you communicate and work together. When your group is first formed, be sure to set aside some time to discuss and come to an agreement about where to meet in the future. Obviously, convenience has a lot to do with your possible choices. However, discussions of where to meet should also focus on identifying a space that's comfortable, easily accessible to everyone, and does not have any distractions, such as, the smell of food from nearby, heavy foot traffic, or constant noise,

Places that meet all of these conditions are the collaborative workrooms in the East Asian Library of Doheny or the group study spaces in the Lower Computer Commons of Leavey Library or on the second floor of Leavey Library. These rooms can seat anywhere from 4 to 10 people and all have dry erase boards and power and network connectivity. Most rooms also have large monitors with laptop connections that your group can use to display a presentation, document, spreadsheet, or other information that is the focus of your collaborative work. Note that these rooms are very popular, especially towards the end of the semester, so schedule early and be courteous in promptly cancelling your reservation so others may use the room. Finally, if everyone agrees that meeting in person is not crucial, a meeting to discuss the group's activities can be conducted over Zoom or other video conferencing platform.

Bilandzic, Mark and Marcus Foth. "Libraries as Coworking Spaces: Understanding User Motivations and Perceived Barriers to Social Learning," Library Hi Tech 31 (2013): 254-273.

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  • Last Updated: Feb 8, 2024 10:20 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments
  • 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
  • 1 Unit Introduction
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
  • 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
  • 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
  • 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
  • 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
  • 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
  • 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
  • 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
  • Further Reading
  • Works Cited
  • 2.1 Seeds of Self
  • 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
  • 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
  • 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  • 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
  • 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
  • 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
  • 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
  • 3.1 Identity and Expression
  • 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
  • 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
  • 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
  • 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
  • 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
  • 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
  • 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
  • Works Consulted
  • 2 Unit Introduction
  • 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
  • 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
  • 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
  • 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
  • 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
  • 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
  • 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
  • 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
  • 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
  • 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
  • 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
  • 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
  • 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
  • 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
  • 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
  • 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
  • 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
  • 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
  • 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
  • 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
  • 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
  • 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
  • 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
  • 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
  • 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
  • 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
  • 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
  • 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
  • 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
  • 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
  • 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
  • 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
  • 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
  • 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
  • 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
  • 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
  • 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
  • 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
  • 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
  • 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
  • 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
  • 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
  • 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
  • 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
  • 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
  • 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
  • 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
  • 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
  • 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
  • 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
  • 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
  • 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
  • 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
  • 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
  • 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
  • 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
  • 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
  • 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
  • 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
  • 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
  • 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
  • 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
  • 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
  • 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
  • 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
  • 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
  • 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
  • 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
  • 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
  • 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
  • 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
  • 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
  • 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
  • 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
  • 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
  • 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
  • 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
  • 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
  • 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
  • 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
  • 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
  • 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
  • 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
  • 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
  • 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
  • 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
  • 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
  • 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
  • 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
  • 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
  • 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
  • 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
  • 3 Unit Introduction
  • 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
  • 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
  • 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
  • 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
  • 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
  • 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
  • 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
  • 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
  • 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
  • 17.1 “Reading” Images
  • 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
  • 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
  • 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
  • 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
  • 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
  • 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
  • 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
  • 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
  • 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
  • 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
  • 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
  • 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
  • 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
  • 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
  • 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
  • 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
  • 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
  • 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
  • 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
  • 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
  • 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
  • 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
  • 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
  • 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
  • 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
  • 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
  • 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
  • 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
  • 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
  • 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
  • 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
  • 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Employ the methods and technologies commonly used for research and communication within various fields.
  • Practice and apply strategies such as interpretation, synthesis, response, and critique to compose texts that integrate the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.
  • Analyze and make informed decisions about intellectual property based on the concepts that motivate them.
  • Apply citation conventions systematically.

As you conduct research, you will work with a range of “texts” in various forms, including sources and documents from online databases as well as images, audio, and video files from the Internet. You may also work with archival materials and with transcribed and analyzed primary data. Additionally, you will be taking notes and recording quotations from secondary sources as you find materials that shape your understanding of your topic and, at the same time, provide you with facts and perspectives. You also may download articles as PDFs that you then annotate. Like many other students, you may find it challenging to keep so much material organized, accessible, and easy to work with while you write a major research paper. As it does for many of those students, a research log for your ideas and sources will help you keep track of the scope, purpose, and possibilities of any research project.

A research log is essentially a journal in which you collect information, ask questions, and monitor the results. Even if you are completing the annotated bibliography for Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing , keeping a research log is an effective organizational tool. Like Lily Tran’s research log entry, most entries have three parts: a part for notes on secondary sources, a part for connections to the thesis or main points, and a part for your own notes or questions. Record source notes by date, and allow room to add cross-references to other entries.

Summary of Assignment: Research Log

Your assignment is to create a research log similar to the student model. You will use it for the argumentative research project assigned in Writing Process: Integrating Research to record all secondary source information: your notes, complete publication data, relation to thesis, and other information as indicated in the right-hand column of the sample entry.

Another Lens. A somewhat different approach to maintaining a research log is to customize it to your needs or preferences. You can apply shading or color coding to headers, rows, and/or columns in the three-column format (for colors and shading). Or you can add columns to accommodate more information, analysis, synthesis, or commentary, formatting them as you wish. Consider adding a column for questions only or one for connections to other sources. Finally, consider a different visual format , such as one without columns. Another possibility is to record some of your comments and questions so that you have an aural rather than a written record of these.

Writing Center

At this point, or at any other point during the research and writing process, you may find that your school’s writing center can provide extensive assistance. If you are unfamiliar with the writing center, now is a good time to pay your first visit. Writing centers provide free peer tutoring for all types and phases of writing. Discussing your research with a trained writing center tutor can help you clarify, analyze, and connect ideas as well as provide feedback on works in progress.

Quick Launch: Beginning Questions

You may begin your research log with some open pages in which you freewrite, exploring answers to the following questions. Although you generally would do this at the beginning, it is a process to which you likely will return as you find more information about your topic and as your focus changes, as it may during the course of your research.

  • What information have I found so far?
  • What do I still need to find?
  • Where am I most likely to find it?

These are beginning questions. Like Lily Tran, however, you will come across general questions or issues that a quick note or freewrite may help you resolve. The key to this section is to revisit it regularly. Written answers to these and other self-generated questions in your log clarify your tasks as you go along, helping you articulate ideas and examine supporting evidence critically. As you move further into the process, consider answering the following questions in your freewrite:

  • What evidence looks as though it best supports my thesis?
  • What evidence challenges my working thesis?
  • How is my thesis changing from where it started?

Creating the Research Log

As you gather source material for your argumentative research paper, keep in mind that the research is intended to support original thinking. That is, you are not writing an informational report in which you simply supply facts to readers. Instead, you are writing to support a thesis that shows original thinking, and you are collecting and incorporating research into your paper to support that thinking. Therefore, a research log, whether digital or handwritten, is a great way to keep track of your thinking as well as your notes and bibliographic information.

In the model below, Lily Tran records the correct MLA bibliographic citation for the source. Then, she records a note and includes the in-text citation here to avoid having to retrieve this information later. Perhaps most important, Tran records why she noted this information—how it supports her thesis: The human race must turn to sustainable food systems that provide healthy diets with minimal environmental impact, starting now . Finally, she makes a note to herself about an additional visual to include in the final paper to reinforce the point regarding the current pressure on food systems. And she connects the information to other information she finds, thus cross-referencing and establishing a possible synthesis. Use a format similar to that in Table 13.4 to begin your own research log.

Types of Research Notes

Taking good notes will make the research process easier by enabling you to locate and remember sources and use them effectively. While some research projects requiring only a few sources may seem easily tracked, research projects requiring more than a few sources are more effectively managed when you take good bibliographic and informational notes. As you gather evidence for your argumentative research paper, follow the descriptions and the electronic model to record your notes. You can combine these with your research log, or you can use the research log for secondary sources and your own note-taking system for primary sources if a division of this kind is helpful. Either way, be sure to include all necessary information.

Bibliographic Notes

These identify the source you are using. When you locate a useful source, record the information necessary to find that source again. It is important to do this as you find each source, even before taking notes from it. If you create bibliographic notes as you go along, then you can easily arrange them in alphabetical order later to prepare the reference list required at the end of formal academic papers. If your instructor requires you to use MLA formatting for your essay, be sure to record the following information:

  • Title of source
  • Title of container (larger work in which source is included)
  • Other contributors
  • Publication date

When using MLA style with online sources, also record the following information:

  • Date of original publication
  • Date of access
  • DOI (A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a series of digits and letters that leads to the location of an online source. Articles in journals are often assigned DOIs to ensure that the source can be located, even if the URL changes. If your source is listed with a DOI, use that instead of a URL.)

It is important to understand which documentation style your instructor will require you to use. Check the Handbook for MLA Documentation and Format and APA Documentation and Format styles . In addition, you can check the style guide information provided by the Purdue Online Writing Lab .

Informational Notes

These notes record the relevant information found in your sources. When writing your essay, you will work from these notes, so be sure they contain all the information you need from every source you intend to use. Also try to focus your notes on your research question so that their relevance is clear when you read them later. To avoid confusion, work with separate entries for each piece of information recorded. At the top of each entry, identify the source through brief bibliographic identification (author and title), and note the page numbers on which the information appears. Also helpful is to add personal notes, including ideas for possible use of the information or cross-references to other information. As noted in Writing Process: Integrating Research , you will be using a variety of formats when borrowing from sources. Below is a quick review of these formats in terms of note-taking processes. By clarifying whether you are quoting directly, paraphrasing, or summarizing during these stages, you can record information accurately and thus take steps to avoid plagiarism.

Direct Quotations, Paraphrases, and Summaries

A direct quotation is an exact duplication of the author’s words as they appear in the original source. In your notes, put quotation marks around direct quotations so that you remember these words are the author’s, not yours. One advantage of copying exact quotations is that it allows you to decide later whether to include a quotation, paraphrase, or summary. ln general, though, use direct quotations only when the author’s words are particularly lively or persuasive.

A paraphrase is a restatement of the author’s words in your own words. Paraphrase to simplify or clarify the original author’s point. In your notes, use paraphrases when you need to record details but not exact words.

A summary is a brief condensation or distillation of the main point and most important details of the original source. Write a summary in your own words, with facts and ideas accurately represented. A summary is useful when specific details in the source are unimportant or irrelevant to your research question. You may find you can summarize several paragraphs or even an entire article or chapter in just a few sentences without losing useful information. It is a good idea to note when your entry contains a summary to remind you later that it omits detailed information. See Writing Process Integrating Research for more detailed information and examples of quotations, paraphrases, and summaries and when to use them.

Other Systems for Organizing Research Logs and Digital Note-Taking

Students often become frustrated and at times overwhelmed by the quantity of materials to be managed in the research process. If this is your first time working with both primary and secondary sources, finding ways to keep all of the information in one place and well organized is essential.

Because gathering primary evidence may be a relatively new practice, this section is designed to help you navigate the process. As mentioned earlier, information gathered in fieldwork is not cataloged, organized, indexed, or shelved for your convenience. Obtaining it requires diligence, energy, and planning. Online resources can assist you with keeping a research log. Your college library may have subscriptions to tools such as Todoist or EndNote. Consult with a librarian to find out whether you have access to any of these. If not, use something like the template shown in Figure 13.8 , or another like it, as a template for creating your own research notes and organizational tool. You will need to have a record of all field research data as well as the research log for all secondary sources.

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  • Knowledge Base

Methodology

  • What Is a Research Design | Types, Guide & Examples

What Is a Research Design | Types, Guide & Examples

Published on June 7, 2021 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023 by Pritha Bhandari.

A research design is a strategy for answering your   research question  using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about:

  • Your overall research objectives and approach
  • Whether you’ll rely on primary research or secondary research
  • Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects
  • Your data collection methods
  • The procedures you’ll follow to collect data
  • Your data analysis methods

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research objectives and that you use the right kind of analysis for your data.

Table of contents

Step 1: consider your aims and approach, step 2: choose a type of research design, step 3: identify your population and sampling method, step 4: choose your data collection methods, step 5: plan your data collection procedures, step 6: decide on your data analysis strategies, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research design.

  • Introduction

Before you can start designing your research, you should already have a clear idea of the research question you want to investigate.

There are many different ways you could go about answering this question. Your research design choices should be driven by your aims and priorities—start by thinking carefully about what you want to achieve.

The first choice you need to make is whether you’ll take a qualitative or quantitative approach.

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible and inductive , allowing you to adjust your approach based on what you find throughout the research process.

Quantitative research designs tend to be more fixed and deductive , with variables and hypotheses clearly defined in advance of data collection.

It’s also possible to use a mixed-methods design that integrates aspects of both approaches. By combining qualitative and quantitative insights, you can gain a more complete picture of the problem you’re studying and strengthen the credibility of your conclusions.

Practical and ethical considerations when designing research

As well as scientific considerations, you need to think practically when designing your research. If your research involves people or animals, you also need to consider research ethics .

  • How much time do you have to collect data and write up the research?
  • Will you be able to gain access to the data you need (e.g., by travelling to a specific location or contacting specific people)?
  • Do you have the necessary research skills (e.g., statistical analysis or interview techniques)?
  • Will you need ethical approval ?

At each stage of the research design process, make sure that your choices are practically feasible.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Within both qualitative and quantitative approaches, there are several types of research design to choose from. Each type provides a framework for the overall shape of your research.

Types of quantitative research designs

Quantitative designs can be split into four main types.

  • Experimental and   quasi-experimental designs allow you to test cause-and-effect relationships
  • Descriptive and correlational designs allow you to measure variables and describe relationships between them.

With descriptive and correlational designs, you can get a clear picture of characteristics, trends and relationships as they exist in the real world. However, you can’t draw conclusions about cause and effect (because correlation doesn’t imply causation ).

Experiments are the strongest way to test cause-and-effect relationships without the risk of other variables influencing the results. However, their controlled conditions may not always reflect how things work in the real world. They’re often also more difficult and expensive to implement.

Types of qualitative research designs

Qualitative designs are less strictly defined. This approach is about gaining a rich, detailed understanding of a specific context or phenomenon, and you can often be more creative and flexible in designing your research.

The table below shows some common types of qualitative design. They often have similar approaches in terms of data collection, but focus on different aspects when analyzing the data.

Your research design should clearly define who or what your research will focus on, and how you’ll go about choosing your participants or subjects.

In research, a population is the entire group that you want to draw conclusions about, while a sample is the smaller group of individuals you’ll actually collect data from.

Defining the population

A population can be made up of anything you want to study—plants, animals, organizations, texts, countries, etc. In the social sciences, it most often refers to a group of people.

For example, will you focus on people from a specific demographic, region or background? Are you interested in people with a certain job or medical condition, or users of a particular product?

The more precisely you define your population, the easier it will be to gather a representative sample.

  • Sampling methods

Even with a narrowly defined population, it’s rarely possible to collect data from every individual. Instead, you’ll collect data from a sample.

To select a sample, there are two main approaches: probability sampling and non-probability sampling . The sampling method you use affects how confidently you can generalize your results to the population as a whole.

Probability sampling is the most statistically valid option, but it’s often difficult to achieve unless you’re dealing with a very small and accessible population.

For practical reasons, many studies use non-probability sampling, but it’s important to be aware of the limitations and carefully consider potential biases. You should always make an effort to gather a sample that’s as representative as possible of the population.

Case selection in qualitative research

In some types of qualitative designs, sampling may not be relevant.

For example, in an ethnography or a case study , your aim is to deeply understand a specific context, not to generalize to a population. Instead of sampling, you may simply aim to collect as much data as possible about the context you are studying.

In these types of design, you still have to carefully consider your choice of case or community. You should have a clear rationale for why this particular case is suitable for answering your research question .

For example, you might choose a case study that reveals an unusual or neglected aspect of your research problem, or you might choose several very similar or very different cases in order to compare them.

Data collection methods are ways of directly measuring variables and gathering information. They allow you to gain first-hand knowledge and original insights into your research problem.

You can choose just one data collection method, or use several methods in the same study.

Survey methods

Surveys allow you to collect data about opinions, behaviors, experiences, and characteristics by asking people directly. There are two main survey methods to choose from: questionnaires and interviews .

Observation methods

Observational studies allow you to collect data unobtrusively, observing characteristics, behaviors or social interactions without relying on self-reporting.

Observations may be conducted in real time, taking notes as you observe, or you might make audiovisual recordings for later analysis. They can be qualitative or quantitative.

Other methods of data collection

There are many other ways you might collect data depending on your field and topic.

If you’re not sure which methods will work best for your research design, try reading some papers in your field to see what kinds of data collection methods they used.

Secondary data

If you don’t have the time or resources to collect data from the population you’re interested in, you can also choose to use secondary data that other researchers already collected—for example, datasets from government surveys or previous studies on your topic.

With this raw data, you can do your own analysis to answer new research questions that weren’t addressed by the original study.

Using secondary data can expand the scope of your research, as you may be able to access much larger and more varied samples than you could collect yourself.

However, it also means you don’t have any control over which variables to measure or how to measure them, so the conclusions you can draw may be limited.

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assignment research project

As well as deciding on your methods, you need to plan exactly how you’ll use these methods to collect data that’s consistent, accurate, and unbiased.

Planning systematic procedures is especially important in quantitative research, where you need to precisely define your variables and ensure your measurements are high in reliability and validity.

Operationalization

Some variables, like height or age, are easily measured. But often you’ll be dealing with more abstract concepts, like satisfaction, anxiety, or competence. Operationalization means turning these fuzzy ideas into measurable indicators.

If you’re using observations , which events or actions will you count?

If you’re using surveys , which questions will you ask and what range of responses will be offered?

You may also choose to use or adapt existing materials designed to measure the concept you’re interested in—for example, questionnaires or inventories whose reliability and validity has already been established.

Reliability and validity

Reliability means your results can be consistently reproduced, while validity means that you’re actually measuring the concept you’re interested in.

For valid and reliable results, your measurement materials should be thoroughly researched and carefully designed. Plan your procedures to make sure you carry out the same steps in the same way for each participant.

If you’re developing a new questionnaire or other instrument to measure a specific concept, running a pilot study allows you to check its validity and reliability in advance.

Sampling procedures

As well as choosing an appropriate sampling method , you need a concrete plan for how you’ll actually contact and recruit your selected sample.

That means making decisions about things like:

  • How many participants do you need for an adequate sample size?
  • What inclusion and exclusion criteria will you use to identify eligible participants?
  • How will you contact your sample—by mail, online, by phone, or in person?

If you’re using a probability sampling method , it’s important that everyone who is randomly selected actually participates in the study. How will you ensure a high response rate?

If you’re using a non-probability method , how will you avoid research bias and ensure a representative sample?

Data management

It’s also important to create a data management plan for organizing and storing your data.

Will you need to transcribe interviews or perform data entry for observations? You should anonymize and safeguard any sensitive data, and make sure it’s backed up regularly.

Keeping your data well-organized will save time when it comes to analyzing it. It can also help other researchers validate and add to your findings (high replicability ).

On its own, raw data can’t answer your research question. The last step of designing your research is planning how you’ll analyze the data.

Quantitative data analysis

In quantitative research, you’ll most likely use some form of statistical analysis . With statistics, you can summarize your sample data, make estimates, and test hypotheses.

Using descriptive statistics , you can summarize your sample data in terms of:

  • The distribution of the data (e.g., the frequency of each score on a test)
  • The central tendency of the data (e.g., the mean to describe the average score)
  • The variability of the data (e.g., the standard deviation to describe how spread out the scores are)

The specific calculations you can do depend on the level of measurement of your variables.

Using inferential statistics , you can:

  • Make estimates about the population based on your sample data.
  • Test hypotheses about a relationship between variables.

Regression and correlation tests look for associations between two or more variables, while comparison tests (such as t tests and ANOVAs ) look for differences in the outcomes of different groups.

Your choice of statistical test depends on various aspects of your research design, including the types of variables you’re dealing with and the distribution of your data.

Qualitative data analysis

In qualitative research, your data will usually be very dense with information and ideas. Instead of summing it up in numbers, you’ll need to comb through the data in detail, interpret its meanings, identify patterns, and extract the parts that are most relevant to your research question.

Two of the most common approaches to doing this are thematic analysis and discourse analysis .

There are many other ways of analyzing qualitative data depending on the aims of your research. To get a sense of potential approaches, try reading some qualitative research papers in your field.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A research design is a strategy for answering your   research question . It defines your overall approach and determines how you will collect and analyze data.

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims, that you collect high-quality data, and that you use the right kind of analysis to answer your questions, utilizing credible sources . This allows you to draw valid , trustworthy conclusions.

Quantitative research designs can be divided into two main categories:

  • Correlational and descriptive designs are used to investigate characteristics, averages, trends, and associations between variables.
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs are used to test causal relationships .

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible. Common types of qualitative design include case study , ethnography , and grounded theory designs.

The priorities of a research design can vary depending on the field, but you usually have to specify:

  • Your research questions and/or hypotheses
  • Your overall approach (e.g., qualitative or quantitative )
  • The type of design you’re using (e.g., a survey , experiment , or case study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., questionnaires , observations)
  • Your data collection procedures (e.g., operationalization , timing and data management)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical tests  or thematic analysis )

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

Operationalization means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations.

For example, the concept of social anxiety isn’t directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioral avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations.

Before collecting data , it’s important to consider how you will operationalize the variables that you want to measure.

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

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Key Components of Assignment Prompts

  • May include general information about the assignment (e.g. Project 1; Minor Assignment 2, etc.) 
  • May include a more specific description of the project or assignment (e.g., Argument Paper; Social Media PSA, etc.)

Purpose & rationale  

  • The assignment should develop students’ understanding of the most important concepts, content, and methods of the course, and be directly related to the course goals. If the course carries Hub areas, consider explaining how the assignment connects to specific aspect of a Hub area. 
  • Provide a clear rationale, so students know how completing the assignment will benefit their learning in the course.

Assignment steps  

  • You may want to scaffold the steps of the assignment for students. This is especially helpful if you have an assignment that spans multiple weeks or is more complicated (e.g., If you are asking students to complete an assignment that involves an outline of ideas, formal proposal, and multiple drafts, make sure you are clearly providing instructions, expectations and deadlines for each step).

Target audience  

  • Students should understand the audience(s) for their work. In some cases, the audience is the instructor; in other cases, the instructor will be grading an assignment, but the students are asked to imagine an alternative, perhaps non-academic audience. In experiential learning or project-based learning, students might be addressing a real-world audience or client. Regardless, students should be able to demonstrate their understanding of single or multiple audiences and adjust their work accordingly. Assignment prompts play a key role in helping students imagine audience. 

Assignment rubric & grading

  • Breaking down your grading criteria helps students understand your expectations for each segment of the assignment, and prevents unnecessary confusion. The length and breakdown of your rubric may depend on your discipline, modality and components of your assignment. 
  • Clarify the scope and weight of the assignment (e.g., 20% of the final grade).

Submission guidelines & due dates

  • Clarify where and how students will be submitting their assignments. If submissions are electronic, ensure requirements for file types, file size, etc. are clear. 
  • Include the due dates and times for the assignment. 

Assignment tools and resources

  • Provide a list of tools and resources students need to complete this assignment. This may be anything from particular software, hardware, books, articles, etc. 
  • You may want to list where and how students can access these resources (e.g., computer lab; library; link to software download; etc). 
  • Offer resources for additional assistance. This may include your availability to meet with students or campus resources. 
  • Specify how students can contact you if they need more time for completing the assignment.

Looking for more templates ?

The Transparency in Learning and Teaching project provides a series of research-based templates for assignment prompts.

You may also be interested in:

Clarity of assignment prompts: considering multimodality, teaching bu hub courses in the summer, ai in the classroom, ctl guide to writing intensive (win) hub courses, ctl guide to individual in community, designing a course syllabus, communicate with students about generative ai.

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MHL 204 - Ohm -LB - S24: Playlist Project Critical Research Part 2

  • Playlist Project Critical Research Part 1
  • Playlist Project Critical Research Part 2
  • Open Web Research
  • Primary and Secondary Sources
  • MLA Resources

Introduction

Critical research for hip hop in-real-life (irl) playlist project, this is the second part of critical research activities for your hip hop irl playlist project. this critical research activity is designed to help you discover a wider variety of research including newspaper and biographies on important artists related to your topic. .

Remember, not only do you need to research background related to your topic, as we did in the last assignment, but you also need to consider how the topic is manifesting in current events by researching biographies of past and current figures and researching to develop solutions to challenges identified in your research.  The Playlist Project should address how the challenges/problems in your topic are changing or how might we best address these challenges, then take a stand .  

Like last time, open the note-taking tool from your google docs; it will help you to continue to take notes on your research. Once you have collected your research and completed the second assignments,  post the assignment in Canvas.

By the end of the class, students will be able to:

  • Conduct a search for an influential person related to individual topics in a biography database
  • Create search terms based on their individual topics
  • Compose a search in a newspaper database using student-generated search terms
  • Utilize processing tools to share, download, email, cite source material

Learning Objective:   After completing general research and reviewing articles from the First Critical Research activity, students will create a list of 5-10 potential search terms and compose several potential combinations to address gaps in their research.   

Biographies - Gale Biographies

We’re going to begin this time by researching important artists who are a part of your topic. Let's begin by watching the following video.

Use the note-taking tool to record important information about your artist. Remember, you may need to research several artists or groups related to your topic and chosen playlists. 

Developing Search Terms

Not all databases are as easy to search as the ones we’ve been using up to now. We’re going to explore another databases that is little different but provide other diverse types of information about your topic, which will be useful as you complete your Playlist Project. Most importantly, to search it, we need to consider what words we are using to compose our search strategies.

Now that you have chosen your research topic, it is time to brainstorm a set of keywords you will use to conduct your searches.

Keywords have a number of uses. They...

  • help you consider and identify important terms related to the subject.
  • break the topic down into "chunks" that are easier to process and understand. 
  • work in multiple search environments - you can use them in both database and web searches
  • are mix and match! Different combinations of keywords will give you different results.

When deciding on your keywords, consider the terminology commonly used in the field. Pay attention to the information sources you are gathering.  Are they using additional words you hadn't considered? 

Watch the following two short video on Developing Keywords and Boolean Searches to help walk you through the process of brainstorming keywords.

Using Boolean Operators

Now that you have selected some possible keywords, it is time to add Boolean Operators to your search string.

Boolean Operators are your primary tool in a database and usually found under advanced search. They tell the database the relationship you want between the keywords you are using.

AND: narrows  a search by focusing it. E.G: rap music AND video games - this search requires the database to return articles that mention both.

OR: broadens a search by giving more options. E.G : hip hop music OR rap music - this search can return results about both hip hop music and rap music, which is a  huge range!

NOT: eliminates a term from the search. E.G.: off topic, but my favorite instance was a student researching submarines: submarines NOT "the beatles". NOT isn't used as much as the other two, but it can come in handy!

You can use AND, OR, and NOT alone or in combination. When combining them, it helps to use parentheses to combine like terms and keep everything straight.  It tells the computer, like a math equation, to find those words first.

(hip hop music OR rap music) AND profanity 

(hip hop OR rap) AND (police OR "black lives matter") 

Other tips for keeping your search organized: Put your Main Idea Keywords first and your Focusing Keywords second.  If you want a phrase to stay together, put is in quotation marks. 

Now, in the note-taking tool, create a list of search terms or keywords to use when searching in other databases. Your search string (terms/keywords) can include people, places, specific events, plus synonyms and related terms.  Add the Boolean operators to your search string. E.G.: hip hop music OR rap music AND police OR  hip hop music OR rap music AND profanity OR hip hop music OR rap music AND "black lives matter" .  Remember, there may be different words that represent the same idea. Use Thesaurus.com if you need ideas!

Current Events - U.S. Dailies

Now let's apply your search string in a new database.  Most of all, don't forget to take notes and copy the citation on your research in the note-taking tool.

Next Steps - Complete the Canvas Assignment

A) Open Web Research:

Review the next tab for tips on finding authoritative websites on the open web.

B) Reflect:

Based on what you read today in your research articles, free-write on the following prompt in your note-taking tool:

  • What was most interesting to you about your topic in the research today?
  • How might that impact what you write about in your Playlist Project? 
  • Can you think of hip hop lyrics that support your topic?

C) Complete the Canvas Assignments:

Upload the note-taking tool to the corresponding assignment in Canvas.  And c omplete the Introductory Essay and Works Cited assignment by the due date listed on Canvas.

D) Primary and Secondary Sources:

For honor students, review the primary sources material.  Complete and upload the related note-taking  tool to the corresponding assignment in Canvas.  

E) MLA Resources:

Review this tab for information installing MyBib App and using the tool to cite videos and free websites for your project.  I have also provided information on using MLA citations for your in-text citations and Works Cited list.

  • << Previous: Playlist Project Critical Research Part 1
  • Next: Open Web Research >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 15, 2024 10:57 AM
  • URL: https://cgc.libguides.com/MHL204OhmSpring24

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COMMENTS

  1. Examples of Student Research Projects

    The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project. Third Edition. by Zina O'Leary. Toggle nav . Student Resources . Videos. Research Proposals including Research Plans ; Coming Up With a Research Question; Getting Ethics Approval; Struggling with a Literature Review;

  2. PDF How to write a research project

    S.M.A.R.T. Before looking at the small print of doing a research project, it's worth taking a moment to try to get a picture of what the ideal research project looks like. The best word to describe it is S.M.A.R.T. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Advantageous, Realistic, Time-framed.

  3. Sample Assignments

    Designing Effective Research Assignments: Sample Assignments Learn about best practices in research assignment design, student research habits, and how the Library can help. Home Student Research Habits How the Library Can Help Sample Assignments Assignments from LCC Faculty Assignment Ideas Assignment ideas from faculty survey and interviews.

  4. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023. A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it's important, and how you will conduct your research. The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements: Title page

  5. 11.3 Managing Your Research Project

    Learning Objectives Identify reasons for outlining the scope and sequence of a research project. Recognize the steps of the research writing process. Develop a plan for managing time and resources to complete the research project on time. Identify organizational tools and strategies to use in managing the project.

  6. How to do a research project for your academic study

    Methodology - the methods you will use for your primary research. Findings and results - presenting the data from your primary research. Discussion - summarising and analysing your research and what you have found out. Conclusion - how the project went (successes and failures), areas for future study.

  7. How to Write a Research Paper

    Understand the assignment Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet: Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.

  8. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposals, like all other kinds of academic writing, are written in a formal, objective tone. Keep in mind that being concise is a key component of academic writing; formal does not mean flowery. Adhere to the structure outlined above. Your reader knows how a research proposal is supposed to read and expects it to fit this template.

  9. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 4: Create a research design. The research design is a practical framework for answering your research questions. It involves making decisions about the type of data you need, the methods you'll use to collect and analyze it, and the location and timescale of your research. There are often many possible paths you can take to answering ...

  10. Research Basics: Understanding the Assignment

    This will help you determine when you need to start finding sources, reading and analyzing them, and developing your paper or project. Some assignments have different parts due at different times, so check all the due dates. To help you manage your time, you may wish to use the Benedictine Library Research Project Calculator ; Length of the ...

  11. LibGuides: Designing Research Assignments: Assignment Ideas

    Alternative Assignments. There are many different types of assignments that can help your students develop their information literacy and research skills. The assignments listed below target different skills, and some may be more suitable for certain courses than others. Research Skills: Searching, Analysis, Evaluating Sources.

  12. Example 9

    This rubric is developed for a specific original research assignment; it would need to be revised to describe the expectations for each specific assignment. Download Original Research Project Rubric PDF.

  13. How to Get Started With a Research Project: 12 Steps

    1 Brainstorm an idea or identify a problem or question. No matter how much guidance the assignment provides, an integral part of nearly any research project is allowing each researcher to come up with their own idea. You need to identify a problem in your chosen field that needs to be solved or answer a question that has not yet been answered.

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    This is the right place for you. To showcase the quality of the work that can be expected from ResearchProspect, we have curated a few samples of academic assignments. These examples have been developed by professional writers here. Place your order with us now. PhD Assignment Sample Discipline: Sociology Quality: Approved / Passed

  15. 66 Research Ideas for Your Next Project or Assignment

    66 Research Ideas for Your Next Project or Assignment | Indeed.com Learn why research ideas are important and explore discover 66 research ideas for a variety of subjects, including health, technology, business and education. By using Indeed you agree to our new Privacy Policy, Cookie Policyand Terms, which we encourage you to review. OK Home

  16. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

    A group project is a cooperative learning assignment that requires students to work with peer group members to plan, discuss, and complete a specific project, often over the course of an entire semester. ... The project can be a research paper, an in-class oral presentation, an out-of-class study project, or research contributed as part of a ...

  17. 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing ...

    You will use it for the argumentative research project assigned in Writing Process: Integrating Research to record all secondary source information: your notes, complete publication data, relation to thesis, and other information as indicated in the right-hand column of the sample entry. Another Lens.

  18. What Is a Research Design

    A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research objectives and that you use the right kind of analysis for your data. You might have to write up a research design as a standalone assignment, or it might be part of a larger research proposal or other project. In either case, you should carefully consider which ...

  19. ENGL 102: Major Writing Assignment: Research Project

    English 102 Major Writing Assignment for Unit 3: Research Project One of the goals of this course is to introduce you to a new way of thinking about academic writing (as an ongoing scholarly conversation) and then to give you the opportunity to participate in that conversation.

  20. Assignment and Project Ideas

    This assignment works very well across the disciplines, and can function as a precursor to a research project or as a stand-alone assignment. Learning Outcomes: Intermediate-to-Advanced Research Skills. Collect and analyze literature and data to address a research question. Identify relevant sources needed and required for the research project.

  21. Research Proposal sample 1

    Research Project Proposal Assignment Sample 1 Your Task: Respond thoroughly and thoughtfully to the following prompts. Write your responses in the text boxes provided, then use "Save As" to give the file a new name; this will ensure that you do not accidentally submit the blank template for grading.

  22. Unit 11 Research Project Hnd Level 5 Assignment

    Unit 11: Research Project Unit code: Unit Level: 5 Credit Values: Student name Assessor name. Muhammad Mohid. Date issued Completion date Submitted on. Assignment title Research Project. Word Count. Assignment Front Sheet Hand-in Policy You must complete this assignment on time. If you experience difficulties, you must inform your tutor ...

  23. Key Components of Assignment Prompts

    The Transparency in Learning and Teaching project provides a series of research-based templates for assignment prompts. Title. May include general information about the assignment (e.g. Project 1; Minor Assignment 2, etc.) May include a more specific description of the project or assignment (e.g., Argument Paper; Social Media PSA, etc.) ...

  24. Research Project Key Term Assignment

    Research Project: Key Term Assignment Liberty University BUSI 240: Organizational Behavior Dr. Williams November 28, 2022. Stress is most if not all people's lives but affects everyone in different ways for better or for worse.

  25. Playlist Project Critical Research Part 2

    Remember, not only do you need to research background related to your topic, as we did in the last assignment, but you also need to consider how the topic is manifesting in current events by researching biographies of past and current figures and researching to develop solutions to challenges identified in your research. The Playlist Project ...