What is an I-Search Paper?
An I-Search Paper helps you learn the nature of searching and discovery on a chosen topic. Your goal is to pay attention, track this exploration, and LEARN HOW YOU LEARN. The I-Search Paper should be the story of your search process, including chronological reflections on the phases of research in a narrative form. The I is for YOU. It's the story of YOUR search and what you learned.
The I-Search paper is NOT a standard research paper. Instead, what you are expected to do is:
- Write down a statement about the focus of your research and what you hope to find. Say why you chose the topic and what questions you want to answer.
- Remember, you are not looking for “the answer.” You are not writing a report. You are investigating a topic in an attempt to learn something new about where and how it is discussed in print and other media. In fact, given the personal nature of this paper, your conclusion might offer reflections on what you learned about the topic and about researching.
- Record and describe the chronological step-by-step PROCESS of searching for information. Write in FIRST PERSON (I, me, my). A journal or notebook would be a good method to use.
- Include the actual search terms you used and how you modified them as you went along. (See Beginning Your Research).
- Say which specific databases and search engines you tried. Analyze the results. How many hits did you get? Say how and why you modified your search strategy to get more or less. What did you learn about each database that you tried?
- For issue-oriented research, Opposing Viewpoints is your best choice.
- If you have trouble finding relevant articles or books in the Library, ask a librarian. They have Master's Degrees in research, are more discerning than search engines, and are happy to assist!
- Include actual facts and theories that you discovered about your topic as well as idiosyncratic information such as what surprised you. You could say what you already knew about the topic before beginning the research and how that topic may have changed during the research process.
- Create a bibliography of at least 3-5 resources which MUST be found through the Otis databases, including the OPAC, and include journal articles and/or books. You should also include websites if you used them, but those will be in addition to the 3-5. You must annotate and evaluate, including the identify the credentials of the author and the type of information (scholarly, popular, etc.)/intented autience. (See Sample Annotations, CRAAP Detection and Types of Information.
- Remember that research is a creative process. Use your creative thinking skills in the research process. Explore widely, question, and keep revising your strategy as you go along seeking information about your topic.