I enjoyed working with students in Mr. Pedzich’s English 101 classes this week. Here’s a recap of what we went over…
Exploring Topics — this is the broad area that you are interested in exploring. If you have a topic, great! If you are still looking for ideas, check the Index from Issues and Controversies for hundreds of viable topics.
Developing a Thesis Question — once you’ve decided on a topic, do some preliminary research on your topic. Check the library catalog, check the databases, check the open web with carefully selected keywords to help you with background knowledge. From there, you’ll need to develop a thesis question. Remember, a good thesis question:
- is open-ended
- cannot be answered with a simple yes or no answer
- cannot be answered by simply restating facts
- will lead your research
My colleague Joyce Valenza, the school library media specialist at Springfield Township High School, has develop this overview of the thesis.
Next, you’ll need to find some sources — that is, people who have an opinion about your topic (specifically related to your thesis question) that can help you view your thesis from different perspectives.
Some of the resources we used in class:
- The Opposing Viewpoints series, available in the Academy Library (search for “Opposing Viewpoints” in the Academy Library Catalog)
- The Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center online — available from the Academy Library Database page
- Issues and Controversies online — also available from the Academy Library Database page
Using Bibliographies — remember, you can use the list of sources that your resources have provided to find additional information online. Use “phrasing” when using search engines to help narrow your searches to specific article titles that may be available online.
Electronic bibliography generators — such as BibMe and Citation Machine. These are useful tools when used correctly; remember that it’s a machine creating these citations, not an intelligent person like yourself, so be sure to check the results against a reliable research manual, such as the Academy Research Manual. If it looks wrong — it probably is!
After exhaustive research, and reading and collecting the opinions and perspectives of many sources, you’ll need to develop an answer to your thesis question — this will be your thesis statement, which is the controlling idea of your entire paper. See the OWL at Purdue resource for more information on Creating A Thesis Statement.
The Dartmouth Writing Program also has some helpful guidance on Developing Your Thesis.
Feel free to contact me if you need any help, or if you would just like some ideas on where to look next. You can respond to this post, you can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can just stop by the library when you have a free period.