Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Analyze Sources
  • Documentation Types and Styles
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Feedback
  • Outline
  • Peer Collaboration
  • Research
  • Research Paper
  • Research Writing
  • Thesis
  • Types of Research
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, eBook, Text/HTML, Video

    Education Standards

    Course Map & Recommended Resources


    How to Use This Guide

    This document is intended to highlight resources that can be used to address the topic of Conducting Research in a Second-Year Writing Course. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System via hyperlink.

    Introduction & Learning Objectives


    This portion of the course is intended to recommend the best open educational resources related to presenting research, including creating a defensible research thesis; supporting and defending ideas in writing; understanding and debating the arguments of others;  selecting credible source material to use in a persuasive research essay; avoiding plagiarism; formatting and presenting sources in an approved academic format; and the process of drafting, revising, editing and polishing an academic research paper. These skills will overlap with other learning objectives (e.g. Reading in Academia, Persuasion and Argument, Rhetorical Situations, Genres, etc.), and instructors will likely want to use these resources and design activities in conjunction with other learning objectives. Further, this module assumes that instructors have chosen their own primary readings (academic journal articles, examples of student research papers, editorials) as examples to which the strategies outlined in these resources may be applied.

    Learning Objectives

    This module is designed to address the following learning objectives:

    1. Select a topic for research
    2. Assess the needs of the audience
    3. Create a working thesis
    4. Identify types of research
    5. Analyze and evaluate sources
    6. Use library databases
    7. Avoid plagiarism
    8. Paraphrase, summarize and quote from source material
    9. Understand documentation types and styles
    10. Create a working outline
    11. Draft a research paper
    12. Seek feedback through peer collaboration
    13. Use the revision process to create a formal research-based written document

    Course Map

    The resources included here are intended to address the above listed learning objectives. They will cover each aspect of the research process, although there are resources that may overlap. These resources can be used as stand-alone chapters, or in combination with other suggested resources from other chapters.

    Recommended Resources

    About Writing: A Guide by Robin Jeffrey 

    • This is an electronic textbook published by Open Oregon Educational Resources which can be read online or downloaded in a variety of formats. Chapters on “Researching” and “MLA, APA, CMS” and “Avoiding Plagiarism” will be helpful for these learning objectives.

    Business English for Success published by Saylor Academy

    • Beginning with chapter 9, and extending until chapter 14, this text addresses research and business communication, including organization of research documents, styles of documentation, netiquette, and plagiarism. This text also contains exercises and examples.

    Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research

    • This resource is available as a PDF and published by The Ohio State University Libraries. Chapter 1 provides information about Narrowing a Topic. Chapter 4 provides information about Precision Searching with respect to using databases. Chapter 6 provides a great deal of quality information on evaluating sources and determining bias. It discusses how and where to find resources in addition to strategies for evaluation. Chapter 7 discusses ethical use of sources. Much of the material is presented as checklists, procedures, and questions, making this source very practical for students to use. It includes a number of student “self-check” exercises that open in another tab.

    Methods of Discovery by Pavel Zemliansky

    • This resource teaches research in different genres, discusses various types of research sources, contains links to resources and multimedia that help students practice key concepts, chapters can also be downloaded in pdf format. Chapter 1 has a good discussion of how to conceive of audience prior to beginning a research project. Chapter 3 covers research and critical reading. Chapter 4 is especially recommended for using internet sources and reliability. Chapter 5 focuses on Acknowledging Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism and includes activities for students to determine plagiarism, and Chapter 6 focuses on writing across academia.

    The Process of Research Writing by Steven Krause 

    • Chapter 2 contains a strong discussion of how the library can be useful in searching for information, limiting and expanding searches, as well as using books and netiquette. Chapter 3 covers quoting, paraphrasing, and avoiding plagiarism.  It is relatively brief with many clear examples for students using both MLA and APA format. The chapter also includes links to other related activities such as close reading. Chapter 5 provides information about creating a working thesis. Chapter 10 provides a sample student research paper in MLA format as well as in-class activities and self quizzes.


    Supplemental Content

    Purdue Owl

    • Evaluating Sources: Overview offers brief and direct information including a bullet-pointed list of questions for assessment.

    • Searching Online: Overview to searching online for information.

    • Contextualizing Plagiarism: Good resource for lesson plans about intellectual property and understanding academic conventions about when to cite.

    • Developing an Outline: Somewhat basic, but a good template provided for outlines. Krause is somewhat stronger.

    • Writing a Research Paper: Handy step by step guide, but Krause is somewhat stronger.

    • Sample research papers and citation guides in APA and MLA.

    Developing Your Thesis (website) from Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric: Good general discussion of what a thesis is and how to formulate it.

    UNC Writing Center Handouts – The University of North Carolina Writing Center publishes a great array of handouts for writing and research, all of which are CC licensed.  Among the handouts pertinent to this set of learning objects are “Evaluating Print Sources” and “Fallacies.”

    Preparing for Research

    Preparing for Research

    Depending on your student body, you may find it necessary to prepare your students to write a college-level research paper by reviewing the idea of selecting a topic and narrowing down a research topic to a viable thesis. The following resources contain reading combined with activities.

    1. Chapter 1 of Choosing and Using Sources begins with a discussion about research questions and an activity to self check (multiple choice, self graded quiz). This could be used in-class and would serve as a good starting point for a discussion of what constitutes a good research paper thesis (Learning Objective 1).

    2. Chapter 1 of Methods of Discovery contains a separate link at the end of chapter 1 which specifically includes writing activities. Writing Activity 1C is a writing activity called Analyzing Audience (objective 2). This is tied to a discussion of rhetorical appeals in chapter 1. There are also video examples of these appeals. Writing Activity 1E is a list of questions that can help students to determine what they already know about a topic prior to researching it (Learning Objective 3).

    3. Chapter 5 of The Process of Research Writing includes activities to determine what would make a good research project and how to approach finding a topic. It contains a list of questions that students can answer as they brainstorm for a project, as well as a student example of a first person narrative about how one student focused his ideas and narrowed his topic (Learning Objective 3).

    4. Developing Your Thesis (from Dartmouth) contains a checklist to determine if a thesis is strong enough to drive a project.

    Finding and Using Sources of Information

    1. Chapter 4: “Precision Searching” of Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research discusses precision searching for information. It includes activities to identify concepts in search terms as students begin to look for information. There are quizzes to assist students in looking for the terms that could yield the most appropriate information to investigate questions. These short multiple choice quizzes could be used as in-class activities (Learning Objectives 4 and 5).

    2. Chapter 5: “Search Tools” of Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research will help students to use the library catalog and databases, including search terms for major databases (Learning Objectives 4, 5, and 6). This is mainly focused on the library at OSU, but the information can be applied generally to EBSCO databases.

    3. Chapter 6: “Evaluating Sources” of Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research  will help students if they need to find and evaluate their own sources. Many aspects of this resource could be used to generate reports or evaluations of an author’s credibility, a source’s bias, or the appropriateness of a source to the particular task. There is also a helpful metaphor about a source’s “neighborhood.”  Students could be asked to illustrate or describe a source’s neighborhood as a pre-writing assessment (Learning Objectives 4, 5, and 6).

    4. Chapter 7: "Ethical Use of Sources" of Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research will help students if they need to find and evaluate their own sources. Many aspects of this resource could be used to generate reports or evaluations of an author’s credibility, a source’s bias, or the appropriateness of a source to the particular task. There is also a helpful metaphor about a source’s “neighborhood.” Students could be asked to illustrate or describe a source’s neighborhood as a pre-writing assessment (Learning Objectives 4, 5, and 6).

    5. Chapter 13: “BEAM: A Solution that Might Shine” provides a table that describes the roles sources may play in a completed research assignment. Students may find it helpful to use the BEAM Reference Chart.

    Avoiding Plagiarism

    1. Chapter 3 of The Process of Research Writing covers the issue of Quoting, Summarizing, and Avoiding Plagiarism. Use the examples of good and bad quoting and summarizing for classroom discussion which can lead into practice of these skills with the texts you are reading for class  (Learning Objectives 7 and 8). After a first draft or during peer review of an essay, use the material in Chapter 3 of The Process of Research Writing to have students assess their own work or that of peers (Learning Objectives 7 and 8).  

    2. Chapter 4 of Methods of Discovery contains a supplement for Chapter 4 (writing exercises) for Finding and Evaluating Research Sources. These can be used as in-class exercises and include practice searching through databases and evaluating websites. Chapter 5 of Methods of Discovery contains supplemental writing activities to assist a student in avoiding plagiarism, including “Anti-Plagiarism Activities” (Learning Objectives 7 and 8).

    3. Chapter 6 of Methods of Discovery contains a good discussion for placing source material into a student’s writing. These can be used as in-class readings, and the examples include practice with summary, quotation and paraphrase, as well as examples of the original passages (Learning Objectives 8 and 9).

    Planning, Drafting and Revision

    1. Chapter 11 of Business English for Success has information about organization, Chapter 12 has information about Revision, Chapter 14 has information about documentation, and some key points about writing style. Exercises are embedded into the chapters (Learning Objectives 10,11,12, and 13).

    2. Chapter 8, “Revising” in About Writing: A Guide contains information about analyzing a draft, peer editing, and revision with suggestions for increasing internal coherence. This includes a checklist for how to be a “Constructive Peer Reviewer.”


    Following is a list of quizzes, assessments, and exercises included in the resources for this module:

    1. Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research – Chapter 6: Evaluating Sources includes Quick Check assessments and activities following the readings; available via hyperlink.

    2. Purdue OWL has pages of style-related exercises for writers who need practice with writing style issues when revising.

    3. The Process of Research Writing includes hyperlinks to related activities such as “the working thesis exercise,” the “critique exercise,” and an “antithesis” exercise to assist students in generating antithetical points.