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WR122: Evaluate, Summarize, Analyze

Sample Research Process


1. Identify a topic of interest

My daughter doesn't like the fact that Harry Potter gets all the glory while Hermione Granger does all the work. What does the treatment of the Hermione character say about gender in the Harry Potter series? 

2. Brainstorm keywords around your topic and use them to do some preliminary searching in the Library Search

Gender Characters Harry Potter Feminism Hermione

picture showing cloud in the shape of a brain with lightning


© Jean-Francois Podevin; Science Photo Library/Universal Images; Britannia ImageQuest

3. Choose one strong source (fits with topic, adds interest, credible, appropriate diction, elegance of thought)

Cordova, Melanie J. "'Because I'm a girl, I suppose!': gender lines and narrative perspective in Harry Potter." Mythlore 33.2 (2015): 21+. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.


4. Examine the way the author is using source material in the article. How is the author putting together ideas to advance the discussion in the article? Is source material quoted? summarized? paraphrased? Does the author agree with the source, disagree with the source, or use it in some other manner? 

Hermione's story arc, according to Eliza T. Dresang in "Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender," was established "from the moment that she is chosen for Gryffindor to be brave at heart, to show daring, nerve, and chivalry" (228). Heilman, by contrast, calls her "bookish" (224) and implies that her inconsistent competence is far inferior to the innate knowledge Harry and Ron possess. I on the other hand...

5. Note the author and page numbers of a source the author uses that you would like to track down

Dresang, page 228.

6. Go to the list of references at the end of the article. It may be called a reference list, a works cited list, or a bibliography. Using the author's last name, find the citation of the source you are tracking. 

7. Use your mouse to copy the title of the article

Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender

8. Paste the title of the article into the library search and follow links to Full Text. No Full Text? Be persistent and try other strategies. It may be available in paper. It may be part of a book or eBook. Not at Chemeketa? We can borrow a copy and have it delivered. Do a Google search- maybe it is available on the web.

9. Use the page number you noted from the in text citation to locate the page that has the material the author referred to in the article



10. Further analyze the source material to gain insight into your topic AND to gain insight into how experts use sources in their own writing

11. Bootstrapping = revisit the list of works cited and track down other sources that will be helpful for your research


Be persistent!

Here are a few possible scenarios with strategies for tracking down sources:


  • Search finds article full text ► Follow View it links to database

  • Search does not find article, but Search finds journal Check to see if we have the volume and issue you need in paper

  • Search finds citation but not article Try Google or Google Scholar; sometimes we can find it on the web

  • Search finds article citation, no full text, not on Google Request from interlibrary loan* (automatic form, electronic fill in form, paper form)

  • eBook chapter (Harry Potter example) Follow View it links and search contents of the book

  • Paper book chapter

    • We have the book Find call number and find on shelf

    • We don’t have the book Request via Summit or interlibrary loan form

  • Search says full text, comes up empty in database Try searching directly in the database (the database may not understand the info sent by the library search)

  • Possible error in citation Google the citation or parts of the citation to verify  

  • Reference from a lecture, interview, or perhaps conference presentation:

    • Item is ephemeral, notes are not available or are in the possession of the author, such as personal interview notes, and are not available Contact the author

    • Notes available on website, perhaps of sponsoring organization in the event of a conference and sometimes for lectures

  • Item is a website or document on a website Visit the website and search for source content