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Research 101

What you will learn

  • Where to get help with questions about writing and citing
  • How to identify and select the core ideas, findings, and data from a source
  • How to incorporate core ideas, findings, and data from sources into your own writing
  • How to give credit and make citations to sources

Writing Support

Writing and research is a connected process. This is why the Writing Center and Library work together to help students through the process.

Writing Center

The staff in the Writing Center are the campus experts on writing and citing. In addition to appointments, the Writing Center also has helpful resources on their web page

Kirk Library

Librarians can help with basic citation questions. You can contact a librarian by using our 24/7 chat service or by emailing the librarians. The Kirk Library also has copies of our most commonly used citation manuals, MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE.

Identify and Select Core Information

When adding a source in our writing, we will want to address the core ideas, findings, and data of the source. Even if we are arguing against the ideas in the source, we want to accurately reflect what is written and the heart of the message. 

It is also important for us to find sources that are as close as possible to the original. For example, if a newspaper article contains a few quotes from a politician's speech, that we want to quote, we will want to find a recording or full text of the speech to quote from, rather than relying only on the short selection in the newspaper. This allows us to make sure the quote is not being used out of context. On the other hand, if we are interested in discussing how the author of the newspaper article analyzes and interprets the speech, then we will use sections of what the newspaper author wrote.

Quotes From Newspapers and Popular Sources

When using newspapers and popular sources in our writing, we will mostly want to use quotes that represent the author's ideas, analysis, interpretation, and commentary. Newspapers, especially from a historical perspective, are also great at providing evidence that an event happened and what people thought of it at the time. 

When popular sources are reporting on recent research, we will want to do the work of going to the original research article to make your own interpretation. Research can frequently be exaggerated or misrepresented in the popular media. For example, research articles will present very narrow, focused, limited findings within specific experimental conditions, but when popular sources report on it, they frequently make it appear as if definitive, universal truths have been found. 

Core Findings, Ideas, and Data From Scholarly Sources

Using scholarly sources may seem difficult at first because the text is dense and filled with jargon, data, figures, and graphs. To make reading easier, use the sections to guide you to the core of the paper. Scholarly papers typically report on an experiment or collection of studies to understand new ideas in the field. First make sure you have a good handle on what they studied, then skip to the conclusion or discussion section to understand what they think happened, why it's important, what more can be done in the future, and other core findings.

The things that the authors discuss in the conclusion and discussion sections are the core of the paper. These are the ideas, findings, and data that you want to use in your project.

Incorporate Core Information Into Your Writing

Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are three ways we include the work of other authors into our writing. The option we chose depends on what we are hoping to achieve with our paper. Below are definitions of each approach.


  • involves using a small segment or sentence of the source of an original text, copied word-for-word
  • uses quotation marks around the copied words 
  • provides an in-text citation, following your citation style's (APA, MLA, Chicago) rules


Example quotation: According to Roger Sipher, a solution to the perceived crisis of American education is to "[a]bolish compulsory-attendance laws and allow only those who are committed to getting an education to attend" (par. 3).


  • involves putting a passage from source material into our own words
  • changes words and phrases of the original text, but keeps the original meaning
  • provides an in-text citation, following your citation style's (APA, MLA, Chicago) rules


Example paraphrase of the essay's conclusion: Roger Sipher concludes his essay by insisting that schools have failed to fulfill their primary duty of education because they try to fill multiple social functions (par. 17).


  • involves putting the main idea(s) into our own words, including only the main point(s)
  • creates a broad overview of the source material, that is significantly shorter than the original text
  • provides an in-text citation, following your citation style's (APA, MLA, Chicago) rules


Example summary: Roger Sipher makes his case for getting rid of compulsory-attendance laws in primary and secondary schools with six arguments. These fall into three groups—first that education is for those who want to learn and by including those that don't want to learn, everyone suffers. Second, that grades would be reflective of effort and elementary school teachers wouldn't feel compelled to pass failing students. Third, that schools would both save money and save face with the elimination of compulsory-attendance laws.

Writing examples were taken from the OWL Purdue Writing Lab page on quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. 

Give Credit and Make Citations

Why We Cite

Writing a research paper can often be seen as solitary work. But in truth, when we write academic papers we are practicing a form of written conversation. All conversations have rules that we follow--in academic writing one such rule is citing our sources. 

  1. Citations help show our readers that they can trust our conclusions, because we have listed the resources used to make our claims.
  2. To give credit to the words and ideas of others. 
  3. To allow our readers to find similar writing on the topic.  

How to Make Citations: The Basics

While there are many different styles of citation (MLA, APA, Chicago, CSE, AMA, etc). All citations have common elements that are included. These are: 

  • names of creators
  • the title
  • date of publication
  • page numbers
  • volume and issue numbers for articles
  • link for online material

Additional elements of the citation will depend upon what type of resource you we are citing (book, article, video. etc) and the citation style you use. 

In-depth Help With APA, MLA, and Chicago

Online, the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue produces excellent guides to the three major styles.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is often a scary word that comes with warnings of zero points for assignments and even expulsion from college. Learning more about what plagiarism is and skills to avoid it can reduce our stress when writing a paper. 

According to Centralia College, "Plagiarism includes taking and using as one's own, without proper attribution, the ideas, writings, or work of another person in completing an academic assignment. Prohibited conduct may also include the unauthorized submission for credit of academic work that has been submitted for credit in another course." - Centralia College Student Rights, 132L-350-080, Prohibited student conduct.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

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