Guidelines for Conducting Research




            Plagiarism, passing off someone else's work as your own, is a serious error that must be avoided. Before grading your report, I will submit it to my account at where it will be checked against a database of sources. Any plagiarized report will receive a zero for the assignment.

            Many people do not realize that copying even a few words or a distinctive phrase from a source is considered plagiarism. Look over a plagiarism example submitted to me by a student who didn't realize that he was doing anything wrong by clicking here. Developing good research methods and carefully documenting your information can prevent you from unintentionally plagiarizing your sources.


Working Efficiently


            Locating appropriate information for your research is time consuming, but you can learn to work more efficiently, spending your time with sources that will help you rather than wasting it on sources that will not. Learn to use the research aids that are available in Tomlinson Library: on-line catalogs, indices, and bibliographies. Don't forget the human resources of librarians, professors, and local experts in the field you are researching. They can frequently direct you the most productive source material.


            General works and online aggregations like Wikipedia are not bad sources with which to start a research project. They can provide you with an overview that will help you limit and focus your topic. They also often contain bibliographies that can lead you to more specialized sources.


            When you locate print sources in the library, examine the adjacent shelves. You may discover another source that you missed in the catalog. Before you check books out of the library examine their table of contents, indices, and publication date to eliminate those that do not address your topic or are out of date.


            You should read source material efficiently. Use the table of contents or the index to locate the parts of the text that are relevant; then, use headings to skim to the passages that are most helpful.


Taking Notes


            When you have located a passage in a text that is relevant to your research, take notes that will still be useful to you days or weeks later when you finally need to use them. Most important, you should not merely copy large portions of the text material into your notes. Doing so wastes your time and postpones the inevitable task of digesting the information you are reading; moreover, such mindless copying increases the danger of unintentional plagiarism. Try to translate information into your own words as you take notes. When a particular wording is sufficiently significant to warrant direct quotation, be sure that you clearly distinguish the direct quotation from your paraphrase. Using double chevrons << quote >> around a quotation can make this difference clear later. Every page of notes should include something to identify the source and the page on which the information appears.


            Remember to write down the complete publication information for each source before you begin taking notes. This should include the author, editor, edition, publisher, place of publication, date of publication, and the inclusive pages for an article that is part of a larger volume. If you use Internet sources, be sure to copy down all of the information you will need when citing the source in your paper: the author or authoring organization, the title of the page, the title of site of which the page is a part, the date on which you accessed the page, the page complete URL (its Internet address).


Documenting Sources


When to document information


            There are three types of information that should always be documented:


1.         direct quotations. A word, phrase, or passage that is quoted directly from a source should be enclosed by quotation marks and cited.


            The poet Claude McKay has been called "a fascinatingly paradoxical figure" (Barksdale 489) and "a prophet as well as a poet" (Kinnamon 213).


2.         information that is not commonly available. Facts or information that, although not unique to your source, is not readily available should be cited. You might have to look up the capital of South Dakota, but you should not document the source of such commonly available information.


            At the time of his birth, McKay's hometown of Sunny Ville, Jamaica had a population of under 1,000 (Barret 243).


3.         opinions or ideas that seem particular or original with the author.

            When you refer to the opinion expressed by an author rather than factual information, you should cite your source.


            James Brentano believes that McKay's poetry never lived up to the promise exhibited in "If We Must Die" (251).


Documentation Styles


            Writers use many different documentation styles. For this assignment I want you to use the Modern Language Association documentation style. MLA style uses in-text, parenthetical citations that typically include the authorís name and the page number. The citation should follow the referenced information and be enclosed in parentheses. At the end of the paper an alphabetized Works Cited list includes the full information for each source.

An Example of MLA Style

            In general, advertising is "used to bring products, services, opinions, or causes to public notice for the purpose of persuading the public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised" ("Advertising"). More specifically, Catherine Caples argues that advertising is "the matter of getting the prospect to pay attention to the message you are attempting to present” (78).  One way manufacturers advertise successfully is by segmenting products to offer different ingredients and features.

            Although all modern laundry detergents do pretty much the same thing, remove dirt and odor from people’s clothing, each detergent brand is developed to fill an individual consumer need or want.  (Hafer, “Strategic” 34)

Oxydol—bleaches as it washes, Dreft—the detergent for baby’s laundry, Tide—America’s favorite, Dash—low suds concentrate, and Cheer—all temperature Cheer are all segment product examples.  Product endorsement by celebrities is also an extremely popular method of advertising.  Companies spend large amounts of money to have public figures promote their products.  Marketing support for Alpo Catfood that used Garfield the cartoon cat totaled $70 million (Bernstein 22). Two years later a campaign for underwear featuring Michael Jordan was budgeted at more than twice that amount Bernstein 25). The combination of available data, big-time processing power, asset management and marketing automation technology means advertisers can target individual at scale ("Why").  Changes in marketing ideas also help agencies promote products.  For example, in an interview on October 4, 2004, Jack Lowry, owner of Picwood Cinema in Russellville, Arkansas stated that the Motion Picture Association’s NC-17-rated films, to which no children under 17 can be admitted, are more likely to be advertised on TV stations and newspapers than X-rated films.  In any effective advertisement, creative writing is a necessity (Caple 125).  The 1972 advertising message of Kellogg's Raisin Bran cereal heralded the “Two Scoops” story in a song.  “For raisin lovers the theme provided a dramatic memory device for communicating a good cereal content” (Hafer, Advertising 113).

Works Cited

"Advertising." Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 3 Feb. 2015,  Accessed 23 June 2016.

Bernstein, Rudolf X. “The Increasing Cost of Advertising.” Modern Management, vol. 2, no. 8,
        Aug. 2013, pp. 18-26.

Caples, Catherine. “Imaginative Advertising.” Approaches to the Marketplace, edited by Joseph
       Jukester.  Fordyce Press, 2009,  pp. 62-81.

Hafer, Albert. “Strategic Marketing.” Advertising World, 8 Oct. 2006, pp. 31-38.
---. Advertising Today. Simon and Schuster, 2002.

Lowry, Jack.  Personal interview.  4 Oct. 2008, Picwood Theater. Russellville, Arkansas.

"Why Audience Segmentation Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be." Advertising Age, 13 May 2014,
       Accessed 17 June 2016.


Example of Works Cited Entries in MLA Style

A book with a single author

Snark, Fred. Field Guide to North American Snails. ASA Press, 2005.

A book with two or more authors

Biggles, Robert, and Barry Cazlow. Egg Production in Iowa. Jacobs, 2008.

A book with three or more authors

Lawrence, David, et al. Mastering Advanced HTML. Chicago: Wheatland, 2000.

A book with unknown author(s)

Repairing Your Automobile. Carruth, 2006.

Two books with the same author [Arrange alphabetically by titles.]

Nixon, Emily. Emerging Technologies. Chiggers, 2013.

---. Laser Technology. Chiggers, 2011.

A book with an editor

Merryville, Mary, editor. Analyzing Nursery Rhymes. Sunset, 2003.

A book with an author and an editor

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels, edited by Geoffrey Yahoo. Lilliput, 2005.

A source from an anthology

Able, Fred. “Shiloh.” The Civil War, edited by Shelby Foote. Memphis State, 2008. pp. 153-191.

An introduction, foreword, or afterword

Dixon, Bunny. Foreword. My Big Squeeze, by Lena Noxious. Outofsight, 2012, pp. v-xvi.

An in a journal or magazine without volume numbers

Marney, Everett. “Nine Ways to Skin a Cat.” Taxidermy, 18 May 2012, pp. 14-23.

An article in a journal or magazine with volume numbers.

Threader, Betty. “Office Management.” Journal of Management, vol. 21, no. 2, Jan. 2008, pp. 6-9.

A newspaper article

Newman, Norman. “Computer Use at Tech Increases.” Courier-Democrat, 15 July 2001, sec. B, p. 6.

An article from a reference work

“Lasers.” Dictionary of Science. 2001 ed.

An article from an online encyclopedia

"Iron." Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 3 Feb. 2008, Accessed 6 Mar. 2009.

A brochure or pamphlet

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Hunting Education Requirements. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, n.d.

A personal interview

Huckabee, Mike. Personal interview. 14 May 2005, Clarion Hotel, Little Rock.

A lecture or presentation

Lake, Paul “New Formalism.” Arkansas Tech University. Russellville. 15 April 2006.

A motion picture or video recording

Capra, Frank, director. It's a Wonderful Life. RKO, 1946.

Personal E-Mail

Mitchner, Stuart. "Re: Ray Davies." Received by Carl Brucker, 21 June 2006.

An article from an online journal

Mitchner, Stuart. "When Shakespeare Speaks to You". Town Topics. Princeton News Bureau, 25 April 2007. Accessed 20 May 2008.

An Article from an online database

Bossong, Greta. "Ergativity in Basque." Linguistics 22.3 (2009): 341-392. JSTOR. Accessed 9 June 2009.

An article or page from a Web site with a named author or authors.

Brain, Marshall, and Tom Harris. "How GPS Receivers Work." HowStuffWorks. 25 Sept. 2006. Accessed 3 June 2009.

An article or page from a Web site with no known author

"King Arthur." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2 June 2009. Accessed 3 June 2009.

An article from a Web site with no named author, date, or sponsoring organization.

"Rosie and the Originals." Accessed 8 June 2009.

General instructions for an article or page from a Web site

As a general guideline include all of the following information that is available in the order shown.

[Author's last name, Author's first name]. ["Title of the Article", Site, or Page]. [Editor]. [Sponsoring organization]. [date of publication or last update]. [<complete URL>]. [date accessed is optional if publication date is known].



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updated: March 4, 2020