How Do I Collect Information for Essay Writing?

Collecting high-quality information is essential to writing a successful essay. The information you assemble during the course of research will become the foundation of your essay. However, the abundance of available resources, online and otherwise, can make the search for pertinent information seem like a daunting task. Locating useful information requires that you develop a critical eye to differentiate between questionable sources and credible, fact-based information. The right strategy in gathering information can help you find good sources and put together an accurate, engaging and persuasive essay.

Things You'll Need

  • Style manual, such as The Chicago Manual of Style

Instructions

    • 1
      Search the Internet and library to develop an essay topic.
      Search the Internet and library to develop an essay topic.

      Brainstorm essay topics. If you were not assigned a topic, complete preliminary Internet and library research to find a topic that interests you. Use general keywords to search for resources that can lead you to a working topic and thesis, which will be the main proposition of your essay.

    • 2
      Collect better information by making your searches specific.
      Collect better information by making your searches specific.

      Refine your topic. Find useful information by being specific. For example, instead of looking for information about "Shakespeare's poetry," search for "symbolism in the love sonnets of Shakespeare."

    • 3
      Gather information from a variety of sources, including a library.
      Gather information from a variety of sources, including a library.

      Use a variety of sources. Don't rely solely on the Internet to find information. Visit the library and gather information from books, periodicals and academic journals.

    • 4
      Consult bibliographies to find more sources.
      Consult bibliographies to find more sources.

      Check bibliography, reference or suggested-reading sections at the end of magazine articles or books for additional sources.

    • 5
      Examine all information carefully before including it in your essay.
      Examine all information carefully before including it in your essay.

      Evaluate information. Analyze the information to see if it's relevant, timely and credible. Is it directly related to your essay's thesis? Is the information outdated, or can it still be used to support your argument? Does the information come from a credible source, such as a peer-reviewed journal?

    • 6
      Keep track of information and cite all sources.
      Keep track of information and cite all sources.

      Organize information. Use your computer, file folders or note cards to keep track of the sources you'll use in writing the essay. Consult a style manual, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, to learn how to quote or paraphrase information in your essay, as well as how to create a bibliography.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have access to an academic library, ask the librarian about electronic resources such as online databases, research guides and journals.
  • Visit local historical societies or your library's special collection department to find older primary sources, such as historical manuscripts, periodicals, sound recordings and photographs.
  • Avoid the suspicion of plagiarism by always crediting or citing your sources.
Related Searches

References

Resources

  • Photo Credit writing image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com typing image by Snezana Skundric from Fotolia.com notebook and pen image by Victor M. from Fotolia.com shelves of library books image by nextrecord from Fotolia.com magnifying glass image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com Young Blonde Woman With Open Book image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com green files. image by Sorbotrol from Fotolia.com

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