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Module Five

lightbulb

finished paper

TAKING YOUR TOPIC FROM IDEA TO FINISHED PAPER

THE ASSIGNMENT

Molly has been assigned a paper in her Principles of Marketing class.
She is free to choose the topic as long as it deals with some aspect of marketing.

THE TOPIC

She is interested in the relationship between consumers and marketing, so she decides to concentrate on this area. However, she does not know enough about this relationship to know how she wants to approach it.

THE TIMELINE

Though the paper is not due for quite some time, she knows she should not put it off until the last minute. She gives herself some deadlines for accomplishing the various tasks, building in some extra time to allow for the unexpected.

PRELIMINARY RESEARCH

The first task is to do some preliminary research in order to focus her topic. She doesn't have time to come into the library, but knows she can access all the databases from her home. She logs into the library databases, and chooses Encyclopaedia Britannica Online from the Database Services alphabetical list of databases. She types in consumers and scrolls down through the topics until she sees some that interest her. She notices that many of these entries come from marketing articles in the encyclopedia. Links within these entries will probably lead to other relevant information. The entries that look most promising are:

As she reads the entries, she jots down keywords and related terms to use when she searches for articles and books on her topic. She also does a quick check in eCatalog, ProQuest, and EBSCOhost to make sure there will be enough information readily available.

FOCUSING THE TOPIC

Now Molly is ready to focus her topic. After reading the encyclopedia entries, she does a little brainstorming, and decides she would like to explore the psychological aspect of buying and how businesses must understand this in order to market products successfully.

What effect do psychological factors have on consumer behavior and attitudes
and how can products be marketed effectively in light of these?

THE OUTLINE

She is now ready to make a working outline. She can add more details and revise it later as she does more research. The main thing is to have a plan that can allow her to answer her research question in a logical, thorough manner.

THE SOURCES

Molly's instructor requires that they have a minimum of five sources. At least two must be books and at least two must be articles from a scholarly journal. Information from Internet websites is also allowed, but not required. Other types of sources are also allowed as long as the required sources are used. Everything must be cited in APA format.

Books. Molly marked some books in eCatalog that looked relevant when she did her preliminary research, then printed out the list. She took the list with her to the library and looked through the books she had marked. Some were not so relevant after all, but several had good, useful information. After checking the author's credentials and publication dates, she checked out the following books:

stack of books

Electronic Books. Molly also noticed some electronic books in her search of eCatalog that looked interesting. She made a note of these and took a quick look at them in ebooks on EBSOChost and the other ebook databases. She decided to add these to the running list of sources she was making:

electronic book

Articles. She now needs to find journal articles. She searches both EBSCOhost and ProQuest using keywords from her list, in various combinations, until she gets the results she is looking for. Article titles, like book titles, can be misleading, so she reads the abstract and a portion of each article that seems relevant, then prints out the ones she thinks she can use. She also checks to make sure that all citation information is visible on the printout. These are the articles she chose:

periodicals

Videos. In her search of eCatalog, Molly also notices some videos and streaming videos that might contain useful information. One especially catches her eye. She notes that it is an educational video, a Learning Channel and Films for the Humanities documentary.. It should be a good source. She also looked at the streaming videos found in library databases such as Films on Demand and found others of interest. She decides to watch these right away to get her excited about her topic and anxious to do more research:

videos

The Web Even though she already has many good sources, she decides to do an Internet search also. She uses Google, entering psychology and consumers as her search terms. The most promising website is:

Consumer Behavior: The Psychology of Marketing
The author of this site, Lars Perner, Ph.D., is assistant professor of clinical marketing at the University of Southern California.
She prints out the first page of the website so she will be able to find it again later when she can spend more time on it.

She may not use information from all these sources but she thought they all looked interesting. She will narrow the list down later.

THE RESEARCH

girl researching

Over the course of the next three weeks, Molly spends time several days a week, reading information from her sources. As she reads, she takes careful notes, briefly citing sources as she goes along. She decides to type her notes in a word document, fitting them into the outline headings and subheadings. This way, it is easy to see when she has enough information to cover all her points. She does the citation information in red, so it will stand out and she won't forget to cite anything in her final draft. She has to make occasional revisions and additions to her outline, but doesn't deviate from the overall plan.

THE WRITING

The Rough Draft. By now, Molly knows a lot about her topic, so she is ready to start writing. Since she knows she will be revising her paper later, she can relax and not worry about finding the perfect words and phrasing. Right now, it's all about the information, writing it down and organizing it. As she writes, she knows some things sound awkward or unclear, and there are some grammar errors, but if she slows down to think these things through, she may lose her train of thought and all the good ideas she has in her head. It is better to just keep going.

Revising.Molly knows she needs to get away from her paper for awhile, so she puts it out of her mind for the rest of the day. By the next day, she feels ready to take a fresh look at it and to begin to polish it. Because she has allowed herself enough time, she does not feel rushed. She tries to read her paper as if she is seeing it for the first time. She will, in fact, read it several times over the next few days until she is satisfied that it is well written, interesting to read, organized logically, flows well, makes sense, and answers her research question. She asks her roommate, who is a good, conscientious student, to read it too.

Proofreading. Molly has caught a few spelling, typographical, and punctuation mistakes during the revision process, but since this is not the main focus of revising, she knows there are probably more mistakes. She also needs to double check for common grammar errors that may have slipped through the revision process. In addition, she makes sure all of her in text citations are correct. She now reads her paper out loud, slowly and carefully, several times, until she can read it all the way through without finding any more mistakes. Just to make sure, her roommate also reads it again after Molly is satisfied with it.

THE CITATIONS

The Reference List. Since Molly has been using NoodleTools to generate citations every time she cited a new source in her rough draft, she only needs to print her list. However, she does double check to make sure that every source she cited in her text is represented in the reference list, and every source on the list was cited within the paper. She also proofreads her list and checks for errors she may have made while entering the citation information into NoodleTools.

reference listview Molly's reference list

THE FORMATTING

She consults the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for the proper format before she types her title page. This should be proofread also. All that is left to do is to set the margins, line spacing, running head, and page numbers before printing it.

THE FINAL PAPER

Molly now feels that her paper is as good as she can make it and is ready to submit it. Her professor has provided the students with a password and instructed them to submit their papers through turnitin.com. Molly keeps all of her research notes and materials just in case there is any question about any of her sources.

THE REWARD

girl sleeping

A+ grade

Instant: A good night's sleep and feeling of relief and accomplishment for a job well done.

Ultimate: A thorough knowledge of the subject and an excellent grade on her paper!

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