Introduction to Units about Research Skills


Research represents many skills. Research involves finding sources that help you understand your topic, evaluating those sources to choose the most appropriate ones, integrating borrowed ideas and words into your own writing, and documenting those sources according to a specific style. Like reading and writing, research is a process.


In this video called “Why Research Matters,” writers, a novelist, a filmmaker, professors, and a student share their ideas about the role research plays in their work. As you watch, listen for these three descriptions of research:

Download transcript.

Berkow, Peter. “Why Research Matters.” VideoCentral. Bedford/St. Martin’s.


The three quotations from the video emphasize that research helps you make a point, opens your mind to new ideas, and requires you to fit ideas you’ve learned together. The process requires finding out what others have said about a topic and then adding your own voice to that discussion, being careful to acknowledge those whose ideas and words informed yours. Research should make you think, and the outcome of your research should make readers think too.


The units in this section as well as the tutorials help you practice research skills. As you read through the study pages and complete the activities, remember that these activities are designed to help you make decisions.

As a researcher, you are going to be faced with a lot questions about how to find sources, which sources to use, and how the sources support your claims. Practicing those decisions now in the different scenarios presented by the quizzes will improve your experience of research later. As a researcher who has practiced each skill, you will be able to concentrate more on integrating your own claims with your sources’ ideas rather than worrying about whether you are making good choices. This practice should give more confidence as you engage in the research process.