Skunk Ape: Module 1
Module 1: Getting Started with Research
Welcome to module one of the Search for the Skunk Ape Tutorial. Before you put on your safari hat and boots to go stomping through the Everglades looking for the Skunk Ape, you must arm yourself with the tools that will increase your chances of success. This module will provide you with some of the principles of the research process that will prepare you for the search.
After completing this part of the tutorial, Module 1: Getting Started with Research, you should be able to:
Whenever you conduct research, you must think of the purpose of the research and the audience for whom the results are intended. A research purpose, as well as intended audience, will have numerous possibilities. Your assignment here is to produce a research paper or a presentation on the topic of the Skunk Ape. Your purpose is to learn what you can about the subject, complete the assignment and present the results of your research to your professor and your fellow students, hopefully earning a good grade in the process.
After completing the Skunk Ape research, there may even be additional audiences for your research results. For example:
In your future career or scholarship, the information and sources that you choose may differ depending on the purpose of the research and the audience to whom you present the results.
Purposes and audiences can vary widely. What's important to remember is that defining the purpose and audience will help you keep your research efforts focused so you don't get sidetracked or waste valuable time gathering information from inappropriate sources.
You have your assignment, "find information about the Skunk Ape for a research paper or presentation." But there is a critical, though common problem- you don't know anything about the subject.
Once you have determined the information you need to fill the information gap, formulating an appropriate search topic is the next vital step. How do you whittle down all the information available and develop an appropriate search topic? A well-formulated search topic takes into consideration:
Take a look at the following graphic. It demonstrates topics ranging from very broad to very narrow. Then answer the questions below.
Whenever you have the freedom to select your topic for research, choose something that interests you. A topic that sparks your curiosity will transform the assignment from a chore to a satisfying adventure of discovery and it will be reflected in the quality of your work and presentation.
Information comes in various forms, ranging from books and peer-reviewed journal articles to radio broadcasts and chain emails. Different information sources have advantages and disadvantages in when it comes to usefulness for research projects. Variables to consider may include: currency, publisher, focus, author, intended audience, and particularly, authority and reliability. The format of the information is less important than the credibility of the content.
What sources could we use for our search for the Skunk Ape? Watch this video to find out about different information sources and how they may affect your research choices.
View a printable PDF guide with the information from the video.
Do you know what sources are best for your information needs?
Now you are armed with the basic principles of research. You know your assignment and the purpose and audience for your research project. You have identified your information need and you know how to formulate your research topic. The next step is getting the information, but where do you get it?
You won't find everything to fill your information gap organized into a neat, easily accessible package, but that doesn't mean you should give up. With the right tools, some time, some persistence, and support from the reference staff at FGCU, you will be able to gather the information you need. In the next module of this tutorial, you'll learn more about the tools that are available and the strategies that will help you complete your research.