Friday, May 11, 2012

The Research Virtuoso by The Toronto Public Library

Annick Press, 2012
122 pages
Buy here.

The Research Virtuoso is a fun, straightforward, and handy introduction to conducting academic research and writing research papers.  Authored by Jessica Rovito and Peggy Thomas of the Toronto Public Library, this book is general enough to be used in any course that requires research, either at the secondary or collegiate level, while providing very specific tips and resources for students to use in the research process.

The book is divided into four parts.  Part One focuses on the pre-research stage, from receiving and understanding a specific assignment to planning and brainstorming to identifying and consulting initial sources.  Bloom's Taxonomy is introduced as a concept on its own and as a tool for writing research papers.  Particularly helpful parts of this section are the examples of different organizational structures and web addresses for online brainstorming tools.  Part Two emphasizes finding information, more specifically the where of research (Internet, libraries, archives, people) and the how of performing keyword searches with electronic sources.  In Part Three, readers learn about skimming and scanning, evaluating resources, taking good notes, avoiding plagiarism, and using different methods of citation.  Finally, Part Four is all about the writing process and putting together a solid presentation of a research project.

Each section is very easy to get through, and headings are a bit tongue-in-cheek to help keep readers interested.  (One section heading is titled "Pick Some Brains: Not Just for Zombies.")  Each part is chock full of information, but the authors avoid overloading the reader by interspersing that information with short comic strips, tables, checklists, and worksheets.  Overall, it has a wonderful mix of textual, visual, and interactive components.

This book is very usable as a textbook in a writing/research-oriented course, and can easily be supplemented with lectures, discussions, and activities.  The language is simple, explanations and definitions are clear, and the organization is logical.  I will certainly be using this book the next time I am in a position to choose my own textbooks.

Rating: 5/5

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