Step 1: Develop a research question. Choose a topic or issue and develop a question that is neither too broad or too narrow. A topic serves as an informative research basis, while an issue is a topic on which you can take a stand. Conducting some preliminary research can help you refine your research question. Instagrok is a good place to start for a general overview of your topic. It suggests possible subtopics and shows how they are related to the primary search query.
Step 2: Plan search strategies. Think about what types of information you'll need and where you'll find that information. Do you need news sources? Biographies of people? You also need to brainstorm a list of keywords that you'll use to search. Decide which keywords or phrases will be most effective and determine any topics that may appear in searches but are not related to your topic.
Step 3: Locate & access information. Start locating the information you need. What books and databases will have the information you need? Think about how you'll find information within sources as well. Does the book have a table of contents or index you can use? Get organized so you can get use all of the sources in once place all at one time. If some of your information involves multimedia materials or personal interviews for primary sources, plan how you will arrange access to that content.
Step 4: Explore, evaluate, & extract. As you explore each resource, evaluate the information to make sure it is credible, useful, and helps answer your research question. Extract and record summaries and key points from the research in each of your sources, remembering to track citation information. Take careful and effective notes from all databases, print and multimedia resources, and any personal interviews, making sure to address all aspects of your research question.
Step 5: Organize & present information. Create a clear outline of your research paper or presentation. Decide which research notes match best with the pieces of your paper. Once your information is well organized, write a first draft. Conference with your teacher for feedback on your research process.
Step 6: Rewrite & cite. Based on your own editing and review, and feedback from your instructor, rewrite until you are prepared to submit a final draft. From your research notes, create a bibliography following the guidelines for the specific project.
Adapted from research modules written by Julie King, Baylor School Hedges Library
The CRAAP test stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. Use these 5 things to evaluate information resources like websites to make sure you're using good, credible information in your paper and not CRAAP.
Currency: The timeliness of the information
Is currency important for your topic? Is it a science, technology, or health-related topic?
Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
When was the information published or posted?
Has the information been revised or updated?
Are the links functional?
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
Can you find the same or better information in another source?
Is it the type of information needed? (i.e. background, statistics, primary source)
Authority: The source of the information
Who is the creator (author/source/publisher)? Is it an individual or an organization?
Are the creator’s credentials given? Can you determine the creator’s age, level of expertise, etc.? (Hint: Google the author or publisher to find out more)
Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
Is there contact information, address, or email?
Does the URL reveal anything about the source or author? (.com .edu .gov .org)
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content
Where does the information come from?
Is the information supported by evidence? Do they cite their sources?
Has the information been peer reviewed?
Can you verify any of the information in another source or by your own knowledge?
Are there spelling, grammatical or typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists
Is the resource promoting something that might cause biases (like opinions or products)?
Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
If it is an opinion, is it based on logical thinking and good, credible evidence? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?