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3.3.1: Introduction

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    Less than one generation ago, the biggest challenge facing research writers like you was tracking down relevant, credible, and useful information. Even the most basic projects required sifting through card catalogues, scrolling through endless microfiche and microfilm slides, and dedicating hours to scouring the stacks of different libraries. But now, there is no dearth of information: indeed, the Internet has connected us to more information than any single person could process in an entire lifetime. Once you have determined which conversation you want to join, it's time to begin finding sources. Inquiry-based research requires many encounters with a diversity of sources, so the internet serves us well by enabling faster, more expansive access. But while the internet makes it much easier to find those sources, it comes with its own host of challenges. The biggest problems with primarily Internet-based research can be boiled down to two issues:

    • There is too much other there to sift through and everything that might be relevant, and
    • There is an increased prominence of unreliable, biased, or simply untrue information.

    This chapter focuses on developing strategies and techniques to make your research and research writing processes more efficient, reliable, and meaningful, especially when considering the unique difficulties presented by research writing in the digital age. Specifically, you will learn strategies for discovering, evaluating, and integrating sources.


    "Card catalog" by Andy Langager is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


    "Another Ethernet Switch in the Rack" by hdaniel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    Chapter Vocabulary

    Vocabulary Definition
    annotated bibliography a research tool that organizes citations with a brief paragraph for each source examined.
    believer a posture from which read; reader makes efforts to appreciate, understand, and agree with the text they encounter.
    block quote a direct quote of more than four lines which is reformatted according to stylistic guidelines.
    bootstrapping the process of finding new sources using hyperlinked subject tags in the search results of a database.
    citation mining the process of using a text's citations, bibliography, or notes to track down other similar or related sources.
    claim of evaluation an arguement determining relative value (i.e., better, best, worse, worst). Requires informed judgment based on evidence and a consistent metric.
    claim of phenomenon an argument exploring a measurable but arguable happening. Typically more straightforward than other claims, but should still be arguable and worth discussion.
    claim of policy an argument that proposes a plan of action to address an issue. Articulates a stance that requires action, often informed by understanding of both phenomenon and evaluation. Often uses the word "should." See call-to-action.
    CRAAP Test a technique for evaluating the credibility and use-value of a source; researcher considers the Currancy, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose of the source to determine if it is trustworthy and useful.
    credibility the degree to which a text- it's content, its author, and/or its publisher- is trustworthy and accurate.
    direct quote the verbatim use of another author's words. Can be used as evidence to support your claim, or as language to analyze/ close-read to demonstrate an interpretation or insight.
    doubter a posture from which to read; reader makes efforts to challenge, critique, or undermine the text they encounter.
    evidence a part or combination of parts that lends support or proof to an arguable topic, idea, or interpretation.
    the naysayer's voice a voice that disagrees with the writer or speaker included within the text itself. Can be literal or imaginary. Helps author respond to criticism, transition between ideas, and manage argumentation.
    paraphrase author reiterates a main idea, argument, or detail of a text in their own words without drastically altering the length of the passage(s) they paraphrase. Contrast with summary.
    primacy effect a psychological effect experience by most audiences: the opening statements of a text are more memorable than much of the content because they leave a 'first impression' in the audience's memory. Contrast with recency effect.
    recency effect a psychological effect experienced by most audiences: the concluding statements of a text are more memorable than much of the content because they ar more recent in the audience's memory. Contrast with primacy effect.
    signpost a phrase or sentence that directs your reader. It can help you make connections, guide your reader's interpretation, ease transitions, and re-orient you to your thesis. Also known as a "signal phrase."
    summary a rhetorical mode in which an author reiterates the main ideas, arguments, and details of a text in their own words, condensing a longer text into a smaller version. Contrast with paraphrase.
    thesis (statement) a 1-3 sentence outlining the main insight(s), argument(s), or concern(s) of an essay; not necessary in every rhetorical situation; typically found at the beginning of an essay, though sometimes embedded later in the paper. Also referred to as a "So what?" statement.
    use-value the degree to which a text is usable for your specific project. A source is not inherently good or bad, but rather useful or not useful. Use-value is influenced by many factors, including credibility. See credibility and CRAAP Test.

    This page titled 3.3.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Shane Abrams (PDXOpen publishing initiative) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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