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Landscape Architecture 170: Getting Started

History and Literature of Landscape Architecture

Manuals on Writing a Research Paper

There are numerous manuals and grammar books available to guide you through the process of writing an excellent research paper. The following resources are highly recommended.

Getting Started

Use the guide on Research 101

Tips for getting started:

Deconstruct your topic using the Brain Dump worksheet.

  • Make a list of keywords and phrases.
  • Review this guide to find essential fact finding resources and recommendations for article indexes.
  • Set up a proxy connection to search article indexes from home.
  • View tutorials on searching catalogs and indexes.
  • Set up Zotero (do this before searching), watch tutorials for getting started (see the citations tab).

Follow these steps to organize your research: 

  1. Define and Deconstruct Your Topic  
  2. See the Basic Resources tab to find initial information about your paper topic.
  3. Refine Your Topic: Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search Basic Resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.
  4. See the Searching Tips tab to find books for an in-depth discussion of your topic.
  5. Go to the Articles tab for resources containing current and retrospective information. Use Periodical Indexes to identify articles within periodical and newspaper titles.
  6. Go to the Citations tab to choose a style manual for your footnotes and bibliography.

Your Paper Topic

Define and deconstruct your topic. Plan your search.

Deconstruct your topic to uncover its complexities, to focus your research and to increase your search vocabulary. The more ways you have of describing and thinking about your topic, the more information you're likely to find. One method of deconstructing your topic is to is to fill out the Brain Dump Worksheet created for LD ARCH 170. Another term for deconstructing a research question is 'concept mapping'; see the Rhode Island School of Design Library's excellent slide show, Concept Mapping, for a visual tutorial.

Example: impact of Golden Gate Park on development of surrounding neighborhoods
Sample questions:
Who designed it? / Who built it? / Who paid for it? / Who were the intended users?
What kind of park is it? / What were the design constraints?
Where is it located? (city, state, neighborhood, country)
When was it built? (date completed, century)
Why was it designed?
How did the city approve the project?
  • Write down your topic. Be brief!
  • Ask the journalists' 6 questions about your chosen topic: Who?, What?, Where?, When?, Why?, How? Do your best to answer these questions. Remember to include alternative spellings. For example: Olmsted or Olmstead; parc or park or parque; Nationsbank or Nations Bank or National Bank.
  • Pay attention to the questions you can't answer about your topic. Look for for the answers in the specialized reference sources in the following section. Add to your 'deconstruction notes' as you learn more about your topic.

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