Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Google Scholar

Research papers typically require students to venture out into the world of academic literature in order to gain insight into a topic. Typically only reputable, peer-reviewed sources should be used to support your arguments. If you’re scared of the intimidating Elizabeth Dafoe Library (which you shouldn’t be), my guess is that you’ll probably venture on to Google to see what you can find on the topic you’re researching. Using a basic search engine, you’re going to find a whole lot of material that may be interesting, but not particularly useful. Sites like Wikipedia or Joe Blow’s Blog may be informative, but they don’t quite have the same clout as the publications of experts in the field you’re studying.

This isn’t to say that the Internet is useless when it comes to research. Not at all. However, when you’re on the lookout for reputable scholarly literature, try Google Scholar. This search engine will provide you with legitimate, peer-reviewed publications from the best and brightest.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Structured Procrastination

In case you blinked, October is in full swing. Where did all of September go? I doubt anyone has a reasonable answer for that. What is apparent is the fact that the number of days of stress-free university life students have managed to soak up these past few weeks are rapidly drying up. Perhaps you have been keeping on top of things, reading over notes from every class, starting all your assignments early, and going to see your profs with all you questions. Or maybe you had every intention of doing these things but somewhere along the way they lost priority to all other things in your life like soccer practice, the season premiere of Grey’s, and hanging out with friends, etc. Now faint recollections of meaning to review class notes are coming back and due dates that seemed so distant and manageable at the beginning of term are but a week or so away. October can be a hard in terms of getting yourself back into the swing of things and the only way to get the ball rolling…is to get the ball rolling. However if you feel your excellent procrastination abilities are impeding your ball rolling consider something called Structured Procrastination at www.structuredprocrastination.com. This is a neat skill that helps you to turn your procrastination into completed by using your procrastination skills in a valuable way. Does this sound too good to be true? Well it’s not as easy as sitting around doing no work but at least this one with help you get your assignments and studying done on time.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Conclusions – Will there be a sequel?

One of the biggest challenges student writers face is toward the end of the process. You’ve written everything except the dreaded conclusion. But what do you write? An all too common approach to conclusions is to summarize your entire paper. The trouble with a summary is that your instructor will be reading the same things they just read in the body of your paper. Especially for short papers written at the undergraduate level, reading a summary may be perceived as time well wasted.

I’ve struggled with conclusions for many years and have found the best way to tackle a paper’s conclusion is to think like some horror movie producers do:
leave room for a sequel! A great writer effectively answers question she’s asked herself but in the end, poses another with the hope that she or another researcher may be able to answer. Just as the monster comes back to life in the frightening final moments of a horror flick, prompting audience anticipation for a sequel, academic writers also might leave their endings open.


Blog note: Here's some more online information on conclusions.