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Community Project: Research!

Search Steps

  1. Interviews 

Yes, you will be interviewing people!  Parents, teachers, owners of businesses, entrepreneurs you come across!  Interviews may be:

  • in person
  • online
  • by video
  • by email

ALL will be entered into your EasyBib!

2. Wikipedia for Research? Maybe yes...

  1. Check Talk Tab for Grade
  2. Any Warning Box?
  3. If a C or better, read paragraphs before Table of Contents for Key Words & "Key Phrases" Write them down! 
  4. Check Table of Contents to narrow topic and go to specific section of interest
  5. Read section of interest 
    1. Add to Key Words and "key phrases"
    2. Click on Footnotes > Use these References for your research!
    3. Check any External Links for specific websites
  6. Never quote or cite a Wikipedia article in academic work!

      In summary, how & when you use Wikipedia:      

  • If graded C or better, use for key words and "key phrases"
  • Use table of contents to narrow and focus topic and find more key terms and footnotes
  • Use appropriate footnotes for resources
  • Use links to off-Wikipedia websites

3. Google Searching

  1. Use your prior knowledge, keywords and "key phrases"  "in quotation marks" from Interviews, Wikipedia, Discussions with Teachers, common knowledge
    1. Ex: "art therapy" 
  2. Use synonyms within parentheses and Boolean OR --->
    1. Ex: (elderly OR seniors)
  3. Combine to make a Search String using Boolean AND: --->
    1. Ex: "art therapy" AND (elderly OR seniors)
  4. Maybe limit the domain?  or
    1. Ex: "art therapy" AND (elderly OR seniors)

              Some of your Topics and possible Search Strings:                

  • 3D imaging – physics/low poly art style
    • “low poly art style” AND 3d
  • Create paint/scent  – chemistry
    • diy AND art AND paint AND scent
  • Chandelier/recycled  materials
    • diy AND recycled AND chandelier
  • DIY Shoes/recycled materials
    • (diy OR create) shoes AND "recycled products"
  • Book holder when lying down
    • "book holder" (bed OR 'lying  down")
  • Business website for air bricks
    • “air bricks”
  • Lip balm - chemistry
    • diy AND "lip balm"
  • Art therapy/elderly
    • “art therapy” AND (elderly OR senior)
  • Lip balm/healing – chemistry, herbs
    • diy herb* "healing balm" 
  • Design clothes, Chinese/Modern 
    • (design or diy) AND clothes 
  • Jewelry w/Christian symbols for Xian missionaries
    • jewelry AND "christian symbols"
  • Recycled scrap metal avian sculpture
    • "scrap metal" AND (sculpture OR art) AND (diy OR create)
  • Workout for healthy life
    • (workout OR exercise) AND "healthy life*)
  • Stock trading online
    • "stock trading" AND online
  • Create gender neutral bracelet
    • "gender neutral" AND bracelet
  • Thai teenage depression/motivational videos
    • "teen depression"
  • Flu protection posters
    • (influenza OR flu) AND (protection OR prevention)
  • Run marathon to raise awareness, encourage health
    • marathon AND "health awareness"

Five Steps for Avoiding Plagiarism

1 First, use your own ideas. It should be your paper and your ideas that should be the focus.
2 Use the ideas of others sparingly--only to support or reinforce your own argument.
3 When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use.
4 Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
5 A good strategy is to take 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. It will help you think through what you want to say and help prevent your being too dependent upon your sources.


From the U. of Idaho, CORE, Module 6


The CRAAP test!
Here is an acronym that might help you remember the criteria needed to evaluate a source!


Currency refers to how recent the information is.

Questions to Ask

  1. When was the information published?
  2. Has the source been modifiedupdated or revised? When did this take place?
  3. If the information is found online, does the Web site have current links or broken links?

Remember the Context!

  • Does it matter if the information is old or new? Sometimes, the currency of the source is very important. For example, if you are researching about a time-sensitive topic such as a current event, then it's important to find sources that have been published recently. Likewise, if you are searching for information about what restaurant to go to tonight, it's important to use current information. (You don't want to arrive at a location only to find that the restaurant went out of business ages ago!)
  • Sometimes, though, the currency is not that important! For example, if you are searching for literary criticism of Shakespeare's plays, then the currency might not matter at all. Criticism written in 1902 about imagery in "Hamlet" can still be relevant today.

Common Pitfalls

  • "The newer, the better" is not necessarily true.
    • Remember that currency is only one of several areas to consider when evaluating a source. Just because a source is current does not mean that it is the best choice for your research.
  •  "If it comes from the web, then it must be current" is not always true.
    • Information posted online can be there for several years. It's your job as a researcher to be a detective and hunt for the date that the information was posted or last updated.

Relevancy refers to the appropriateness of the source for your needs.

Questions to Ask About the Relevancy of a Source

  1. Is the information you found related to and useful for your topic and assignment?
  2. Is the source the appropriate type for your needs?  For example, do you need a book or a scholarly journal article? Do you need primary or secondary sources of information?
  3. Is the information too broad or too specific?

Remember the Context!

  • Sometimes it's very important to evaluate a source's relevancy to your information needs. For example, if you are required to use primary documents in a research paper about the French Revolution, it's important to make sure you found primary documents and not secondary sources.
  • Other times, it's not as important to evaluate a source's relevancy. For example, if you want general information about your favorite reality star, you don't have to worry so much about the type of source you use or the scope of the information.

Common Pitfalls

  • The source that I found meets my requirements for authority, accuracy, purpose, and currency. This means that it's a perfect match for my information needs!

Hold on a minute! There is one more step to take before you can use your source. Even if it passes your other areas of evaluation, if it is not relevant to your needs, then it's not appropriate to use.

Authority refers to the credibility of the source's author.

Questions to Ask About the Authority of a Source

  1. Who is the author? (Remember that authors can be organizations or institutions.)
  2. Consider the organizational affiliation of the author—respected organizations publish the work of respected authors!
  3. What makes the author an "expert" in the field he or she is writing about? What are his or her qualifications? Does he or she have education or work experience in the field? Has he or she published anything else about the subject?
  4. Can you contact the author? Are there telephone numbers, addresses and/or email addresses listed?

Remember the Context!

  • Are you using information for a research assignment? If so, it can be very important that the author is trustworthy. For example, if you are researching about the importance of bilingual education, you would want to use sources written by experts in the educational fields. Likewise, if you were searching for information about how to fix your vehicle, you might consult a local mechanic because he or she is knowledgeable about cars.
  • Sometimes, though, the authority of the source might not matter that much. For example, you might use Yelp to read reviews of restaurants in your area. In this case, it doesn't matter if the reviews at Yelp are written by average people who are not "experts" in the restaurant industry.

Common Pitfalls

The information is in a book published by a major publisher. Therefore, the author must be believable! Hmmm....For one thing, self-publishing is very popular now--so there is no editor, no publisher, no reviewer to check the truth of the book.

And, then consider the book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Published by Anchor House, a large and respected publishing company,

a million little pieces

This book was first sold as a non-fiction title about the author's true-life experiences overcoming alcoholism and the criminal lifestyle. When Oprah added A Million Little Pieces to her popular book club, Frey became a well-known author. Today, he is well-known for another reason: his book is a fraud. James Frey embellished several parts of the story, adding non-truths to make the book more interesting. It goes to show that you need to do your homework before trusting an author!

Accuracy refers to the trustworthiness of a source.

Questions to Ask About the Accuracy of a Source

  1. Is the information repeated anywhere else in your other sources? Yes, you should have at least 3 sources with similar information!
  2.  Does the source include references that clearly indicate where the author found his or her data?

Remember the Context! 

  • Sometimes, the accuracy of a source will be very important. For instance, if you are writing a research paper about the effects of bullying on a child's self-esteem, it is important to use sources with accurate information in them.
  • You will want to review the source's references and double-check the information in other sources.
  • Similarly, if you are surfing the internet for medical advice, you will want to double-check other sources to see if the information you find is accurate.

Common Pitfalls

  • This source is the first one listed from my Google search, or in the database, or in the library catalog. Therefore it must be the most accurate source for my needs!

Well--consider this: depending on what you used to search for information, the result list might be listed:

  • according to date,
  • alphabetically.
  • because the source sponsor paid a fee to the search engine,
  • or any number of other reasons!

Just because something is listed first does not mean that it is the best result for your information needs.

Purpose refers to a source's purpose and point of view. This is where you will search for bias.

Questions to Ask About the Purpose or Bias of a Source

  1. Does the source promote one point or view or one "agenda?"
  2. Are they trying to:
    • sell you something (check for advertising)?
    • convince you of something?
    • ask you to support something or sign a petition?
    • be funny, ironic, or sarcasticThis is especially a challenge for English-language learners

Remember the Context!

  • Does it matter if the source is biased? If you are writing a research paper about cancer treatments, you will most likely need balanced, objective information.
  • On the other hand, if you are writing an argumentative paper, you will need information about all points of view on a given topic. In this case, it's important that you recognize the bias, consider it, and address it, rather than avoid it.

Common Pitfalls

  • "The information is from an article in a library database. Therefore, the source must be objective!"

Not so fast! Some articles in databases come from Opinion sections in newspapers or websites, or the author is biased because he/she is presenting his/her view about how to solve a problem or understand an issue.

  • Best tactic: assume bias and try to find it! Most writers have a point of view--that's what makes research so interesting.

Concordian Databases - Click the Field & Find Suggestions (Hint: Start with Reference!)

Usernames and Passwords