This Research Guide was created by Kathy Fester. This illustration and basic information is taken and adapted from the Austin Perry Staff University Guide. Thank you!
Concordian International School, Bangkok
The content is shared under a Creative Commons Attribuition-Noncommerical license.
This Step does not have a # because it takes place at every step of the process.
You begin with a Project in your NoodleTools account, record your Research Question and Thesis Statement, create Note Cards, and Record your sources as you find them.
When you do work through drafting, revising, and editing, don’t forget that you must cite your sources, both in-text citations and a Works Cited (MLA) or References (CSE) page. EasyBib can help you immensely. If you follow the suggestion to keep a running bibliography as you collected sources, this part is super easy. It is very easy to later delete a source if you decide not to use it and adapt the citation information for CSE. For MLA, once you have your resources in your bibliography, you will know how your in-text citations should "look."
This is another good time to schedule a meeting with your librarian
|FIVE TIPS 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 not be too dependent on your sources.|
From the U. of Idaho, CORE, Module 6
Step #1: Choose Your Topic
(Time management tip: give yourself at least one day --> a few days to work on this step.)
This step can be most difficult. Your teacher may give you the freedom to choose whatever you would like to write about as long as it interests you and you are able to investigate, detail, and argue a particular position. Or you have to answer an assessment question. Or you have to choose within a certain field.
Performing a Google search is likely to overwhelm you with the immense number of results returned to you. Since current events or controversial issues provide many ideas for investigation and argument, there are a few resources that your librarians and teachers can guide you to for thought-provoking topics.
Pay attention to news stories on radio, television, and items that hit your news feed online
Check out Opposing Viewpoints in Context and Global Issues in Context for ideas
You need a topic with enough information to research, but it is not too broad
Ask another teacher about some ideas you might have
This is an excellent point to chat with a librarian to help you settle into a good direction for a manageable topic
Use the Pre-Search Worksheet on this page> to organize your research
Step #2: Performing Background Research
(Time management tip: give yourself a few days to a week to work on this step.)
After you have decided on a topic, you may not be very familiar with it. In that case, you will want to dig into some background research to educate yourself and find a way to narrow your focus to be manageable. Here are a few questions to ask as you dig; keep in mind that your teachers and the librarians you consult may suggest more.
Ask Factual Questions to understand the basics
Ask Critical Questions these are the Why? and What if?
What kinds of information will I be searching for?
Which new terms (keywords and "key phrases", combined with the search terms you have already used, lead you to more information?
See Developing Keywords on this page>
Step #3: Devising Your Research Question(s)
(Time management tip: give yourself at least one day --> few days to work on this step.)
After you have done some background research, you are more prepared to develop informed research questions that will not overwhelm you when you try to answer them. Keep in mind, though, that your questions may not, actually should not, have direct answers. Critical reading of what you find will present you with possibilities, and you may make logical jumps in reasoning to answer the question, using support from sources that you find. Sometimes, as you read more, your research question may change.
Step #4: Identifying Resources
(Time management tip: several hours --> weeks to work on this step.)
Now that you have been able to identify established, manageable issues (for the length of your paper) within your topic, you now have a much better idea how to approach it. You want to think about subjects or disciplines and how your issue fits best into one or several of them. Whenever you think about your topic, pay close attention to the issues authors address in your background information. These major subject areas will lead you to databases that have articles on a particular subject. Think about the following:
Now is the time to:
Condordian CATALOG for books and films
Is there a LIBGUIDE on your topic? It will have suggested books, videos, databases, and websites
DATABASES select by Subject OR A-Z LIST OF DATABASES
PRINT MAGAZINES, JOURNALS, & NEWSPAPERS
Click image below for full analysis of different types of resources. Great Infographic. Portland Community College.
Step #5: Collecting Your Research and Examining Your Results
(Time management tip: give yourself at least one week to work on this step.)
After you identify your resources, you have to begin to think about the concepts and terminology you will use to discover the breadth and depth of information that can potentially answer your question. Make note of the terms used when authors are writing about your topic. These are new keywords to use and combine for more searching.
By “concept,” we mean a general idea, often abstract, of what something is. If that seems confusing, then that is a normal response! Essentially, we must assign terms and phrases to represent a concept.
What's potentially challenging is that a concept can be named by a number of different terms. So, we must break down our research question into concepts and representative terminology in order to find the best information. Have you ever done a search to find no good results? That's because you are not using the terms the writers on this topic are using.
You have to read material to know the vocabulary used
See on this page for more information on crafting search strategies including Boolean Operators and Truncation when doing a refined Internet search outside of a database
Research databases do not behave like Google, Yahoo, or any other open-web search engine. They have ways to help you refine your search.
Below find source evaluation tools:
Step #6: Re-evaluating Research Question(s)
(Time management tip: give yourself at least a week for this step)
This step is one that you will already have begun to consider in Step 5 as you read and think critically about the information in the articles that address your topic and research question.
Now you have to reconsider each source and what it leads to.
Step #7: Collect More Research (if necessary)
(Time management tip: give yourself several days+ for this step.)
Steps #6 and #7 are repeatable as often as necessary.
The further we go in our academic careers, the more detailed and complex our research questions become. By the time someone becomes a graduate student and works on a dissertation, these two steps can be repeated endless times. You will, with experience, determine how many passes through Steps #6 and #7 are appropriate for your research needs.
This is another good time to set up appointments with your teacher, supervisor, and librarian.
Step #8: Synthesise Your Research
(Time management tip: give yourself several days or more for this step.)
You have actually been synthesizing your research in some shape or form since Step #2 because you have been reading and formulating strategies to present your ideas.
The big question is, “how does it all fit together?” Stay focused on your research question and look to the information in the articles (or books or websites that you have used) for support, supporting and opposing arguments. Ask yourself the following questions:
Step #9: Express Your Findings!
(Time management tip: give yourself several days+ for on this step.)
Write. This step in the research process is when you combine your original thoughts on a topic with the research you have done. If you've recorded your sources and kept good note cards, then the writing is much easier.
This is another good time to meet with your librarian about format, and how to cite images, label tables and figures, etc. If the topic is in the sciences or mathematics, your might be required to use CSE Style.
As you combine your theories and ideas with your research, think, "Is this the best evidence for my argument?" If the answer is no, then you may need to return to previous steps to find more materials. Oh no!
Present Your Findings and Ideas
Present. Now that you have all the information you need and have the information cited in your bibliography, it is time to do the work of presenting your research findings and your ideas!
See Check and Double-check Before Handing In
Step #10: Reflect
(Time management tip: at least an hour when all is finished.)
Reflect. As an IB scholar we reflect on our work and on the process. You will be inquiring, trying to find information and researching again. And again. And again! Thinking about the process will make future research more rewarding. Work through these reflection questions:
"The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect."
Based in part from resources from Baltimore County Public Schools!
The OWL (Online Writing Lab) Answers all MLA Questions! Scroll down for specific sections...
EXPAND your keywords
Try this tool to find predefined terms: click the green button
There are popular articles, empirical research articles, and literature review articles. What's the difference??
Which "google" search will give better results?
Here's how to craft a better search to get fewer and more relevant results:
More information on Advanced Google and Google Scholar searching
Check & Double-Check Your MLA Paper
See HERE for a the IB Extended Essay Requirements
See HERE for the IB Personal Project Report Requirements
Based on Janechek, Writing Commons
Brainstorm Your Topic
Starting your research with a quick brainstorm session is a good idea because it will help you identify:
keywords to search in the library catalog and databases
synonyms and alternative words for your topic
specific ideas or questions you may want to address, that you haven’t yet considered
Questions to ask while brainstorming: Write in answers as short phrases or words
WHO are the important / influential people (artists, designers, critics, writers, philosophers etc.) involved with my topic? This could also be a group or organization rather than an individual. Who is the audience or end user?
WHAT are some examples of this topic? A work of art, building, film, product, service, etc.? What is it made of, what does it look like, what style is it? What are the creator’s aims, goals or concerns?
WHEN – what time period(s) are appropriate to this topic? Has it been around for a long time, or is it new? How did it originate? If it is historical, what are the important milestone dates in its history?
WHERE – is it tied to a specific country, state, city or geographic area? Has it been relocated to multiple places and if so, where? What is the importance of place to my topic?
HOW has this topic/idea/work influenced others? How does it relate to the larger culture or context?
WHY is this topic/idea important –to others, and to me?
ONE additional question I have about my topic, or something I would like to learn more about:
Information sources to use: You may need to do some background reading to answer the questions above. It’s ok to start with the basics! Bear in mind you will not END your search here – you still need to use the library catalog and databases to complete your research.
The Internet is a tremendous resource for finding information, but you need to use it critically and with care. One important thing to be aware of is that unlike resources found in a library in printed form, those found on the internet may not have been through a review or editing process.
When researching online you should:
|Desirable source attribute||Questions to consider in order to determine this|
|Reliability and credibility||
Adapted from "Introduction; Academic honesty, Acknowledge the work or ideas of another person", from Extended Essay Guide, International Baccalaureate Organization, 2016.