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Warm-Up for Research Writing

You live at a fortunate time. Before the Internet, people had no easy way to find out what they wanted to know. Friends had heated arguments about which actor played a part or when Czechoslovakia broke up or why there are 360 degrees in a circle. To find answers, people had to go to a library, search through thousands of cards in a big set of drawers, search through hundreds of shelves to find the right book, and search through hundreds of pages to find the right information. That's a lot of work. Not surprisingly, many people just chose to remain ignorant.

These days, you say, "Hey, Alexa, when did Czechoslovakia break up?" In seconds, she tells you that the former nation dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.

Still, many people choose to remain ignorant. One fifth of millennials know little of the Holocaust. (If you are one of them, ask Alexa about it.)

So, research in the Information Age is more important than ever. And rigorous research reaches beyond the free Internet to scholarly publications that only your library makes available. In this unit, you will conduct research about a topic that you care about, uncovering reliable and surprising information that you'll want to share with others. That's the key to an effective research paper.

What Is Rigorous Research?

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Rigorous research digs deeply into a topic, discovering many surprising answers but also new, challenging questions. Rigorous research can start with Alexa and Wikipedia, but it certainly doesn't end with them. It can start with the top Google search result, but it must go much further than that.

Basic research finds reliable answers to who, what, where, and when:

  • What was the Holocaust? The Holocaust was the state-sponsored persecution and murder of people deemed inferior by the Nazi regime in Germany.
  • Who was targeted in the Holocaust? Six million Jews (two thirds of the European population) were murdered along with millions more Roma, Slavs, and Russians as well as homosexuals and those with disabilities.
  • When did the Holocaust occur? The Holocaust occurred from the rise of Nazis in Germany in 1933 through the conclusion of World War II in 1945.
  • Where did the Holocaust occur? The Holocaust occurred throughout Nazi-controlled territories in Europe, with numerous concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

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