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Think Like a Researcher: Instruction Resources: Summary - Research Journal Prompts

Teaching Research And Information Literacy (TRAIL) Curriculum Resources for Writing 10

Research Journal Prompt #1

RJ: #1 Reflecting on the Research Process

1. Think about research you’ve done for a major purchase, life decision (like where to go to college), or personal problem. Describe the process you used to find the information you needed.
2. Now think about academic research you may have done for an assignment in high school or college. How was your process for academic research different than for personal research?
3. How do you decide what information to trust when doing any type of research?
4. Do you enjoy research? Why or why not?

Research Journal Prompt #2

RJ #2: Academic Reading

(Assign after students have read “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”)
Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Nicholas Carr, the author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid” makes the following statement in his article: “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

  1. When it comes to reading for information (as opposed to reading a novel or magazine just for fun), do you see yourself more as a scuba diver or a guy on a jet ski? Why?

Research Journal Prompt #3

RJ #3 (Initial): Using Google for Academic Research

(Assign after students watch four short videos embedded in a LibGuide, conduct a google search on a topic of their choice, and select a reputable article from their search results.)

Using Google for Academic Research (Videos)

Video Titles:

  • How Google Search Works [3:15]

  • Google Search Tips [1:34]

  • Why Word Order Matters in Google [1:46]

  • Is this Website Credible? [3:53

Answer the following questions about using Google to search for information on your topic.

  1. How did understanding the way Google works change the way you constructed your search?
  2. What criteria did you use to determine the credibility of the article you chose?

RJ #3 (Alternate): Using Google for Academic Research

Consider the following questions as you write your reflection. 

  • How can Google be a valuable tool for academic research?
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages to using Google to locate information?
  • What search strategies were most useful to you as you used Google to find information on your topic? 
  • What article did you choose and what did you consider in selecting this as a relevant and suitable source?

Research Journal Prompt #4

RJ #4: What Kind of Information Do I Need? Understanding the Knowledge/Information Cycle

(Assign after students complete the Knowledge Cycle Tutorial.)
Knowledge Cycle Tutorial

Answer the following questions based on what you learned by completing the Knowledge Cycle Tutorial.

  1. What kind of information sources might you find if you were researching the events of September 11, 2001?
  2. How would those sources differ from what you might find if you were researching the events of the attempted coup in Turkey in the summer of 2016?

Research Journal Prompt #5

RJ #5: Research Questions: Avoiding Researcher Bias

(Assign after students participate in the Researcher Bias Lesson which includes watching a video about a student who conducted academic research about Bigfoot and discussing it in class.)
Researcher Mike Rugg talks about his Bigfoot Sightings and Academic Bias

After watching the Bigfoot video and discussing it in class, think about how you can avoid researcher bias as you begin searching for information. Answer these questions as you consider your research paper assignment.

  1. How can framing your research as a question rather than a statement help you to avoid researcher bias?
  2. If you are going to be writing about something that is important to you, how will you ensure that you find and use information that may be contrary to your opinion on the subject?

Research Journal Prompt #6

RJ: #6 Developing Successful Research Topics/Questions

(Assign after students have participated in the Developing Successful Research Topics/Questions Lesson.)

Think about your potential research question.

  1. What is the problem that underlies your question?
  2. Is the problem of social significance? Explain.
  3. Is your proposed solution to the problem feasible? Explain.
  4. Do you think there is evidence to support your solution?

Research Journal Prompt #7

RJ: #7 Library Visit / Source Evaluation

(Assign after students have attended an in-person library instruction session.)

  1. What was the most useful thing you learned in this week's visit to the Library?
  2. Assuming that articles found in library databases are credible, what other strategies will you use to evaluate those sources before using them in your research?

Research Journal Prompt #8

RJ: #8 Research Challenges

(Assign after students have gathered sources for their research paper.)

By now you should have identified several sources that can be used to support your research.

  1. Are you satisfied with your sources? Explain.
  2. What will you do if you need more or different information once you start writing?
  3. What has been the hardest part of doing research for you so far?

Research Journal Prompt #9

RJ: #9 Incorporating Information in a Research Paper

(Assign after students have completed the first draft of their research paper.)

Now that you have written a complete draft, please answer the following questions:

  1. Where do you feel your paper incorporates research the best?
  2. In what places could you strengthen the paper by doing or incorporating a bit more research?
  3. What challenges did you encounter incorporating research and/or adding citations?
  4. What questions do you still have about the research process?

Research Journal Prompt #10

RJ: #10 Final Research Reflection

(Assign after students have completed their final research paper.)

Think about the research you've done this semester in Writing 10 and answer each of the following questions.

Be sure that your answers are thoughtful and complete.

  1. How has your process for doing academic research changed since the beginning of the semester? Be specific. Give examples.
  2. Describe your process for evaluating and selecting sources for your research assignments in Writing 10. How did you decide which sources to use and which not to use? Did you add or change sources for your final assignment after turning in your annotated bibliography? If so, please explain why.
  3. What challenges did you encounter when doing research for your assignments in this class? What strategies did you use to overcome them? Be specific. Give examples.
  4. Have your attitudes and perceptions (confidence level) about doing research changed over the course of the semester? Be specific. Give examples.
  5. Did learning more about the research process in this class help you in other classes this semester? Do you think  it will help you in future classes? Be specific. Give examples.
  6. Think about the research you've done this semester, and describe what you think it means to "Think Like a Researcher?"

Reflective Writing

This article notes the value of reflective writing for learning.

Sandra L. Giles "Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: What Were You Thinking?" from Writing Spaces