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Interdisciplinary Studies: Help

Welcome! Here you will find useful resources to help you in your interdisciplinary studies research.

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Citing Sources

A tool that allows users to create a personal database of research, download citations and generate accurate, concise bibliographies for research papers.

RefWorks: In-Depth Help
If you want to learn how to use RefWorks on your own, this guide has all the info you need.

"Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself."

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Research Tutorials

Write Your Paper

Selecting a topic can be tricky business. Not only do you need to choose a topic that meets assignment requirements, you also want to select something that is interesting enough to keep you engaged for however long it takes to complete the project.

Things to Consider:

• Do you understand your assignment?

• What is the purpose of the assignment?

• What length is the assignment and how much time do you have to complete it?

• What resources will be required outside of class readings?

Narrowing a topic requires you to be more specific about your research interest. If you are unsure about how to narrow your topic, ask the reporters’ questions “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “Why.”

For Example:
You want to write a paper about the AIDS epidemic. The topic “AIDS” is too broad to address in your paper. Ask the reporters’ questions to narrow your topic.

Who? Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?
• United States government

What? What specific aspect of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?
• Effects on children with HIV positive parents

Where? To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?
• Africa

When? On what time period would you like your research focused?
• The present

Why? Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?
• Organizations funded by the US providing "abstinence only" sex education

Based on your answers to the reporters’ questions, formulate a focused research topic.
Due to its "abstinence only" sex education policy in Africa, the United States has an obligation to African children whose parents have contracted AIDS since this policy's enforcement.

• Is there anything that has been discussed in class about which you would like to learn more?

• Are there any social or political issues about which you have strong opinions?

• Are there topics that your frequently discuss with friends and/or family?

• Do you have any personal issues or problems about which you would like to learn more?>

A thesis is typically a one sentence statement in the first paragraph, or beginning, of your project that states your purpose. Thesis statements should be arguable, specific, detailed, and meaningful.


Bad Thesis 1: War is inevitable.
This thesis statement is extremely broad.

Bad Thesis 2: The United States has 50 states.
This thesis statement is not arguable. If anyone disagreed with you, they would be wrong.

Bad Thesis 3: Snickers are the best candy bar ever!
This thesis statement is not meaningful.

Good Thesis: Due to its "abstinence only" sex education policy in Africa, the United States has an obligation to African children whose parents have contracted AIDS since this policy's enforcement

Logos uses reason and logic to support a claim. Logos appeals include:

• Physical evidence and records

• Observation, testimony, and statistics

• Logic, common sense, and probability

• Certainty and accuracy

Pathos plays on our emotions to strengthen a claim. Pathos appeals include:

• Naming emotions

• Evoking sensations

• Using graphics

Ethos uses the authority of the speaker or author to reinforce the strength of the appeal. Ethos appeals include:

• Credentials

• Personal impressions

Both reasons and claims support your claim or thesis. Reasons act as the foundation for your claim, while evidence is needed to develop the reasons.

For example:

• All high school students with a GPA above 3.5 should be able to go to college for free.
• Many academically talented students are having to forgo college because they cannot afford the cost of tuition.
• A survey conducted by This is Only An Example Institute found that 20% of high school students with GPAs above 3.5 chose not to attend a 4-year college due to the cost.

Remember that when writing a paper you are entering into a conversation that is already ongoing. Acknowledging this conversation by referencing others' ideas and research is important. When incorporating others' ideas and evidence into your own work you have a few different options.

A quote reproduces the original text exactly. Quotes should be integrated into your work by introducing the concept or author. This can establish significance and authority.

A paraphrase is putting a quote into your own words, but it should not be a summary. The same amount of content should be in the original text as the paraphrase. Paraphrases should be introduced to differentiate your ideas from that of the source you are paraphrasing.

When summarizing a source, you should reword and explain a section of the original source in fewer words. Just as with paraphrasing and quoting, it is important to introduce the original source.

After quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing evidence it is important to explain how the evidence supports your reason or claim.

The tutorial covers basic formatting information for APA Style and demonstrates how to use MS Word 2010. If you would like more detailed information, please talk to a librarian or consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition (click on the image below to play the tutorial).

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