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Public Affairs, Public Service, and Public Administration: Research Process

This guide includes resources for studying public affairs, public service, and public administration.

A Better Research/Writing Process

Here are some tips and tricks to make writing and researching easier from the following books:

 

Boice, Robert. How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency : A Psychological Adventure. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 1994. Print.  [HWJ]

---. Professors as Writers : A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing. Stillwater, Okla., U.S.A: New Forums Press, 1990. Print.  [PAW]

Single, Peg Boyle. Demystifying Dissertation Writing : A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text. 1st ed. Sterling, Va: Stylus, 2009. Print.  [DDW]

 

Some of these ideas appear to be counter-intuitive, but they are supported by research and the experiences of writers and writing teachers.

 

1.  Write more frequently, but for a shorter time (30 minutes to no longer than 1-2 hours daily).  (PAW, p. 84).  Writing every day leads to shorter warm-up times (DDW, p. 132) and more creativity (PAW, p. 80).

 

2.  Have a designated place or places for serious writing (PAW, pp. 76-7).

 

3.  Stop when you are planning to stop.  Make notes about what you are planning to do next, so that when you sit down to write again, your warm-up time is minimal.

 

4.  On taking notes.  

a.  Read to write, which is different from detailed reading.  Scan for the important parts for your research, then read and take notes only on those.  (HWJ, pp. 54-7)   

b.  In order to save time, read an entire book or article before taking notes on it.  Mark the good passages as you read, then return to make more meaningful notes at the end. (DDW, p. 64)  

c.  Take two kinds of notes:  your detailed overall notes and then, in a different place (different paragraph, different field in a citation manager), the "citeable [sic] notes" you can derive from your original notes.  (DDW pp. 69, 82-83)  The purpose of this dual note-taking is to prevent having to return to the original documents to look for material.  You should have begun summarizing and making sense of  the source as you make your notes, building a bridge between your reading and your writing to make the final writing task easier.  (HWJ, pp. 54-7).

Updated Technology Tools for Research Process

Tools for Optimal Flow  by Meredith Farkas


This article from American Libraries (2012) talks about many new tools that can speed your research process.

Three Ways to Organize Research

Three Ways to Organize Research

Tips on thinking about the research/writing process if you are an "outliner", a "freewriter", or a visual organizer.

Research Process

The Research Process: an Interpretation of the Kuhlthau Model

This interpretation emphasizes research/writing or writing/research as an intertwined process.  The writing process is not usually included in explanations of the research model, but this interpretation was personally approved by Dr. Kuhlthau.


Kuhlthau, Carol Collier. Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, 2nd ed. Westport, CT and London: Libraries Unlimited, 2004. ALEX Z711.K84 2004.

Classic book by Kuhlthau that explains her model (the Information Search Process, or ISP) in detail, incorporating years of research and validation since the original 1991 publication.

Ideas about Documenting Your Sources

Using a Working Bibliography to Save Time  (Adapted from Miller 418-419)

 

A "working bibliography" is a list of the sources you found that you believe are most likely to give you the information you need. 

 

As you use the items, you can type in comments about each in a notes folder. Or, you can turn one copy of your working bibliography into your notes page while a second copy forms the basis of your bibliography or Works Cited page. With electronic documents, both of these variations and more are possible.

 

Organizing and Taking Notes to Avoid Plagiarism  (Adapted from Miller 419-420)

 

  • Make separate folders in your word processor, citation manager, or email account for each paper or project.

  • Document what you find as you go by sending references, abstracts (article summaries), and even full text to yourself as you discover them.  If you use RefWorks or another citation manager, export your items so that you keep track of everything.

  • Keep all your downloads, output from periodical indexes and databases, lists of sources, electronic documents, and notes you write for each project together in the same folder (Miller 419).

  • For your own protection, keep your searches, working bibliographies, note files, and versions of the paper until you receive your final grade for the course.

  • Take notes in a way that automatically avoids plagiarism. All you have to do is:

 

a) Key every one of your notes to a source and page number; and  

    

b) Differentiate clearly between the material you have quoted and your own words as you take notes.

 

Here is an example of a bibliography entry using an online periodical article in MLA 8th format:

 

Miller, Kristin. "Developing Good Research Habits: Encourage Students to

Create a Working Bibliography Online." College & Research Libraries

News. 61 (2000): 418-20. Library Literature & Information Science .

Full Text (H.W. Wilson), http://web.a.ebscohost.com/.

 

Your notes page might look like this:

 

Miller, 2000 [source]

 

p. 419 "Using e-mail to collect citations allows the researcher to reformat them into a working bibliography on the computer and operating system that will be used to do the majority of the word processing." [Quotation, fact or even paraphrase and exact page number]

 

My note:  You should save your electronic searches in your email, even if you print them out somewhere for convenience. [These are your own words and thoughts about what you have read. Invent your own code if you wish, but be sure to label your own words to keep them separate from what you have read. If you used a paraphrase/explanation in your own words, you would still give it an in-text citation, just like the direct quotation.]

 

What Needs to Be Cited  (Reformatted from an unpublished lesson by Dr. Carter Daniel, Rutgers Business School)

 

"You must acknowledge not just

 

  1. Direct quotations, but

  2. Paraphrases of what somebody else said even though you've re-phrased it in your own words,

  3. Ideas you've picked up from a source, and even

  4. Any fact that isn't common knowledge.

 

In short, you have to acknowledge everything you've gotten from a source." 

 

Works Cited

 

Daniel, Carter A. Personal interview, 8 Dec. 2009.

Miller, Kristin. "Developing Good Research Habits: Encourage Students to

Create a Working Bibliography Online." College & Research Libraries

News. 61 (2000): 418-20. Library Literature & Information Science .

Full Text (H.W. Wilson), http://web.a.ebscohost.com/.

 

Subject Librarian

Roberta Tipton's picture
Roberta Tipton
Contact:
Roberta L. Tipton
Business Librarian
Public Administration Librarian
Information Literacy Coordinator
The John Cotton Dana Library
Rutgers-Newark
973-353-5910
tipton at rutgers.edu
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