Congratulations to Minnesota School of Business student Andrea Peel! She is the Online Division’s Research Award winner for Winter Quarter 2014. For her Fraud Examination course, which is part of her business management degree, Andrea used extensive primary sources along with some secondary sources to research the prosecution of the CSK Auto Corporation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. We interviewed Andrea to learn how she put together such an excellent research paper. Read on to learn more about Andrea’s tips for successful research and writing:
What is your degree program?
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree with an emphasis in marketing at MSB-Online.
Tell us about your library experience.
My favorite library is our school’s LibraryConnect! I have never received such good advice and assistance as I have with our librarians and the assistants at school. What other library can be accessed so easily from a computer? They have links to how-to videos and will get back with you so quickly! Many of the resources available from our library are not available by doing a Google search. Never have I seen such an abundance of full-text articles!
What is your best advice for other students who are doing research?
Don’t just ‘pick’ a resource and try to build a paper from it. Research the online library and the general Internet to get a ‘feel’ for the topic, even reading blogs and articles that you cannot use in your paper. General research can give you ideas and help you appreciate the difference between primary and secondary sources.
What was the most important thing you learned during your research paper writing experience?
I learned not to be overwhelmed with the choices that the Internet gives us. For each paper I researched, I created a bookmark folder for the links to primary sources, which I named with notes on what the links offered. When I was stuck or unsure where to go next, I would review my links to get back on track.
Were there any tips you learned while writing this paper that you’re going to use next time you write a paper?
APA citations scare the average student, and although the Word function for creating and citing sources is riddled with errors, it is easy to go back and fix. From now on I won’t stress about proper form until I get the first draft finished. Stopping and fixing citations inhibits my creative process.
Walk us through your research process.
After picking the topic, I do a general search (Google) to see what is available out there. At first I am not concerned so much with sources as I am on what direction I am going to go, so I read a lot about the subject, jotting down ideas from the articles I read. After I get some ideas, I head to our online library and search the topic in the different ways I think I may approach the paper. I don’t have to worry about not finding information using different search criteria from the library, as it is rich in resources. Some of the information from the library can then be found online (.gov, press releases from the topic in question’s website, etc.) so if a primary resource is online, I will switch to their site in order to ‘get the big picture.’ To me, writing a paper is much like being a detective; I am not interested in what is presented to me, I am interested in the truth, and the truth can be found through good research.