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English 101: Expository Writing

English 101 - Expository Writing. Provides information and resources about conducting research, evaluating resources, using MLA format, critical reading, the writing process, editing, proofreading, and the author David Kirkland.

Research Step-by-Step

Unless your instructor has assigned you a specific topic, the first step in any research process has to be figuring out what to research.  Take a good, hard look at your assignment, so that you know exactly what is expected of you, and then think about what interests you.  What topic will satisfy the requirements of your assignment, and keep you engaged?  

It's always best to begin with a clear idea of what you're doing, so once you decide on a topic put it in writing.  Come up with a statement describing your topic and taking into account your professor's requirements.

Use the following link to access a handout prepared by the Reynolds Library with more tips on how to refine, narrow, or broaden a topic:

It's time for a trip to the library.  The librarians there can walk you through developing a search strategy and give you tips for using the many different kinds of resources available at the library.

You can also "do it yourself" by following instructions in the following video tutorials and quick guides. Since all types of library sources can be located using the OneSearch tool, we recommend that you start with it.

Once you've gone through your sources, it's time to apply the information you've found to your assignment.  Do you have enough information to adequately cover the topic you've chosen?  Do any of your points need a little extra support?  How will you organize the information you've collected into sub-topics which will support your thesis statement?

Consider making an outline.  This will act as a kind of visual roadmap, to help you see where each piece of information can fit into your final essay.  The free website Quicklyst will help you create beautiful, easy to follow notes in outline form. 

So you've made some progress in your research.  Now take a step back and see what you've got, then ask yourself some questions.  Are you finding information that is clearly related to your topic, or are you having trouble making connections?  Do you need to broaden or narrow your topic, or are you right on track?  

Think about your topic statement.  What aspects of that statement have NOT been addressed by your research?  Do you need to keep looking for sources of information to fill in those gaps, or would it be a better idea to change your topic to suit the sources of information that you've already found?  Which resources still need to be explored and which ones are likely to be deadends?

If you haven't already, it's not a bad idea at this point in the research process to consider making yourself an annotated bibliography.  It doesn't have to be formal, and can be as simple as organizing notes about a specific resource under the heading of that source's bibliographic information.  

Hourglass Example of Research

An image of an hourglass. In the top of the hourglass are the Specific Resources (see text below image). In the lower part of the hourglass are the New Findings (see text below the image).

Specific Resources...

  1. Broad review of many articles related to topic
  2. Find primary sources – be selective and don’t try to cover too much
  3. Solidify the topic statement by choosing the best information from sources

New Findings....

  1. Topic statement becomes thesis statement for research paper
  2. Discussion point in paper from sources collected
  3. Conclusions – the culmination of the findings of discussion points

Accessing OneSearch and A to Z Databases Off-Campus

How do I access OneSearch or other library databases if I am off-campus?

Step One:  Get out your Bowie Bulldog ID Card and look in the lower right corner for the string of 14-digits following the letters LIB#.  

Step Two: Go to Bowie's library Webpage. Find and open A to Z Databases. Select OneSearch or another database of your choice.

Step Three:  In the first pop-up window select "Bowie State University" 

Step Four:   In the login widow, type in your 14-digit LIB# in the box that asks for your ID number/barcode, and type your last name into the Password box

I was on-campus using my laptop, but I still couldn't access the databases. Why?

That's probably because you were not connected to BullDogAir, the campus Wi-Fi system. When you connect to any other Wi-Fi system - even if you are on campus - you will be prompted to login.

The other possibility is that you tried to access the database by Googling it and going directly to the database Website. To access the database with your Bowie credentials, you must go through the Bowie library Webpage.