Research associated with your Honors in Action Project can be overwhelming, especially getting started. This guide developed by Dr. Blake Ellis, advisor to the Beta Lambda Mu Chapter at Lone Star College-Cyfair in Texas and Humanities Representative to the Honors Program Council, can help make things a little easier. The Beta Lambda Mu Chapter was named the 2017 Most Distinguished Chapter earlier this year.
When conducting research for your Honors in Action Project, follow your chapter’s intellectual curiosity. You need at least eight academic resources. Some tips:
- They should be in-depth and vetted.
- They should have varying perspectives.
- Take note of annotations. They can be helpful and can often lead to more sources.
- The research conclusions should be tied directly to the “action” of your project.
- Use surveys and/or interviews with caution.
As you evaluate and analyze your sources, ask these questions:
- Who wrote this, and why?
- Who is the audience for this source?
- If this is a public document, was it a campaign speech, a policy statement, a judicial ruling?
- Was the author’s intention to educate/advocate?
- Is the document propaganda?
- Is it a source issued by a special interest group or organization?
- What is the author’s point of view/slant?
- What are the author’s credentials?
- Does the author have an obvious political or ideological bias? A hidden one?
- What claims does the author make?
- What interpretation does the author offer?
- What evidence does the author provide to back up his/her argument?
- What is the context of my sources?
- Why do my sources disagree?
In developing conclusions based on your research, start by reviewing what you know. Develop a thesis or main argument, and write a clear statement of that thesis. Keep an annotated bibliography as you go.
Then, pause to consider whether you have enough variety in your sources. And ask, “What do I still need to know?”
Once your conclusions are clear, consider the action(s) you can take. Based on your conclusions, what action can you take to address a real-world problem in your community?
If you get stuck, turn to one of these tips:
- The diversity of your sources matters. How can you think outside the box? Do your sources demonstrate that you analyzed differing views?
- Your Hallmark Award entry should clearly explain how your sources led to specific actions. This is the aspect of Honors in Action that trips up many chapters.
- Never waste effort: document every partnership, project meeting, and trip to the library. You’ve probably done more than you think!
- Remember your audiences: your college, your community, and your region.
Learn more about the 2016-17 Honors Study Topic, How the World Works: Global Perspectives.