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Anthrozoology: START HERE

Resources to support Carroll College Human Animal Bond/Anthrozoology Program. Books, websites, citation information and information about Carroll databases are all included.

How to Start Writing a Research Paper

Use the reference sources below to:

  • help define a topic
  • place a topic in context
  • get an overview of scholarly thought on a topic 
  • help you focus and develop a thesis for your paper

Articles in reference sources often list articles, books, and websites for further reading,  in sections entitled Bibliography, Suggested Reading, Further Information, etc.

Develop a research strategy

Some considerations before beginning your research:

Pick a topic that interests you. If your instructor supplied a topic or a prompt for your paper, figure out an angle of that subject that interests you. Failure to do so will make your research more difficult, and will likely make your paper harder to write and less enjoyable to read.

Understand the topic and terminology. If you choose a topic that is laden with jargon or technical language that is unfamiliar to you, it will be difficult to understand the material you need to read in order to write your paper.

Availability of information. If you choose a topic that is erudite or obscure, factor in additional time for locating resources or research in the field. Likewise, if you choose a broad topic it may be impossible to narrow down to a manageable length. "Sports", for example, is a vast topic--one that could quickly overwhelm you.

Ho hum. Some topics have been written about extensively and should be avoided. You may want to check with your instructor to see if he or she feels that your topic is "tired" and overdone, or if it has potential.

Consider your audience. Who will be reading your paper ? Will it be peers or teachers or someone who is already an expert in the field? Knowing who your readers are will help you determine the extent of the background information needed as well as how detailed your paper could or should be.

Length of paper. How long is the paper? Read your syllabus or ask your teacher how long the paper is. It is unlikely, for example, that you will be able to  write about the differences between the religion of Islam and Christianity in a 5 page paper.

Due date/deadline. It is imperative to look ahead to the deadline in order to prioritize and complete the steps of locating sources; reading the material you have chosen; evaluating chosen material; taking notes on your reading; and writing, paraphrasing, quoting and citing. See the assignment calculator to the right for help in determining the scope and timing of your research paper.

What does this allow us to talk about? Underlying the story you tell in your paper is the "so what?" or "who cares?" factor. Your paper is more than a report on a subject; you are staking a claim and using your research and writing to back up that claim.

Use these Reference Resources


Using the ideas or words of another person without giving credit constitutes plagiarism - a serious ethical and legal offense. You should strive to avoid it at all times, and can easily do so by using quotation marks to cite direct quote, and in-text citations to give credit if you are paraphrasing an idea.


From the Carroll College Student Handbook:



The term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.
Plagiarism may range from isolated formulas, sentences, or paragraphs to entire articles copied from books, periodicals, web sites, speeches,or the writings of other students. Honesty requires that any work or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be acknowledged. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas or materials obtained from another source is guilty of plagiarism.  Plagiarism, in any of its forms, and whether intentional or unintentional, violates standards of academic integrity. Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:
  • Direct quotation of any source material whether published or unpublished without giving proper credit through the use of quotation marks, footnotes and other customary means of identifying sources.
  • Paraphrasing another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories from books, articles, websites, etc., without identifying and crediting sources.
  • Borrowing facts,statistics, graphs, diagrams, photographs, or other illustrative or visual materials that are not clearly common knowledge without identifying and crediting sources.
  • Copying another student’s essay test answers or submitting papers written by another person or persons. This includes copying, or allowing another student to copy, a computer file that contains another student’s assignment and submitting it, in part or in its entirety, as one’s own.
  • Buying or selling,or exchanging term papers, examinations, or other written assignments, or any part of them.
  • Offering false, fabricated, or fictitious sources for papers, reports, or other assignments.

Subject Guide

Heather Navratil