Your First Research Project
What do I already know about the research process?
Use the Research Rubric for Beginning Researchers to see if you are a beginner, adequate, accomplished, or master researcher. (pre-assessment).
Watch the Plan Ahead video to see how much time you'll need.
Create a folder on your student drive; in the folder start a blank Works Cited page. Save any research database articles you find in the folder, and keep notes and rough drafts there. Get a "flash drive" to easily carry information back and forth from home to school.
1. Develop a topic:
Choose a topic. Do some "pre-searching" in the library by reading a short article from a reference source such as an encyclopedia.
Is your topic too broad? Too narrow?
Use the green MLA slip to help you cite a World Book article.
2. Develop a research plan:
Use the 5 Ws and an H to brainstorm subtopics.
Divide the topic up into three or more subtopics using the Subtopics Web handout.
Use your encyclopedia article to add more specific subtopics to your research plan.
Watch Create a Research plan to understand subtopics.
3. Locate sources of information in a variety of formats:
Use general terms from your subtopics web as keywords to search in our research databases, and in the online library catalog to locate books in the library.
Build and print a list of books to look for, here's how.
- BOOKS (Print sources): Use the Dewey Decimal system to locate books on the shelf in the library. Watch Locate Sources of Information to understand the difference between print and web sources. The blue MLA slip will help you make a citation for a book.
- E-books will open from within the library catalog.
- DATABASES: Use the user names and passwords bookmark (pick up in the library) to locate information in our CHS research databases (the back side has tips on finding MLA citations in the databases). See links to databases on this page. Most of our databases have a "cite" feature, or use the goldenrod colored MLA citation slip to help you gather information for a citation.
- WEB SOURCES: Watch the short Research and the Internet Powerpoint presentation from Purdue University's OWL English with your class for ideas on effective web searches, including Advanced Searches, searching by "domains," and Boolean searches (see handout in Useful Information box). Watch the short Web Sources video to understand the types of web sources.
4. Evaluate sources:
Use the A,A,B,Cs (Accuracy, Authority, Bias, Currency) to evaluate web sources.
5. Read your sources carefully.
Think about what you read (pencils down!), and select important information. Does it fit your research plan?
6. Take notes as your teacher directs; note the page number where you find information so that you can later create in-text citations as needed.
An example of how your notes should look: Note Taking Format (also in the Useful Information box).
7. Organize your notes by subtopics. Turn your notes into an outline before writing a rough draft.
Cite your sources! Use the Sample Works Cited Page as a model. The color-coded activity slips in the library will help you gather the needed information in the correct format.
Check the MLA Format Helps (box to the left) for samples of finished research papers, or use the MLA Guide in the library reference section to be sure you are correctly typing the finished research paper.
Controversial Issues Research
GET READY: Set up your Works Cited page before starting your research Here's how, and start a FOLDER online to save articles, pictures, charts and graphs.
1. PRE-SEARCH your topic on SIRS
- NARROW YOUR TOPIC using Visual Browse or Groups and Subject Lists - get your self to a web page on your topic!
- READ the Topic Overview and Timeline of your chosen research topic
- CREATE A LIST OF related SUBJECTS, KEYWORDS & TAGS for searching
- COLLECT articles, pictures and graphs in your folder
TUTORIALS for SIRS and EBSCO:
Pro/Con Articles SIRS (4:10 minutes)
Tools to Power Learning SIRS general tutorial (8 min)
My Research Tools SIRS (4:23) including My List, Session Save, and downloadable research outlines
How to Use the Student Research Center EBSCO (3:36 min)
How to Research in Points of View EBSCO (3:13)
2. Search for PRINT sources in the library catalog using the SUBJECTS and Keywords you found on SIRS
- Click on "Add to List" as you search
- Go to Resource LIsts on the left side, then the little VIEW with binoculars
- PRINT OUT A LIST OF POSSIBLE BOOKS (here's how).
- Go back to Resource lists, scroll down to the bottom, click on Create a citation list of your print sources (here's how
- To fix, or add information from a referene source, use a "citation machine" such as KnightCite.
3. Search for other DATABASE sources in EBSCO POINTS OF VIEW or World Book on the Research Databases page; pick up a password bookmark in the library.
4. Search for e-books in the CHS library catalog for your project (watch demo), on the Follett Shelf on the library home page, or in the EBSCO e-books collection; Add to List, go to Resource Lists, then use the Create a Citation feature to print citations..Here's a tutorial on how to search the EBSCO e-books collection. E-books are considered Web sources.
Tip: Once you have your sources, read several articles to get a general idea of your topic, and break your topic into subtopics before you begin taking notes. If you're not clear what is the difference between a topic and a subtopic, watch the short Powtoon videos to the left.