1. Read your Assignment Guidelines
Before you begin your research, you need to understand the SCOPE of the work you need to do. Your assignment guidelines usually include the following:
What is the purpose of the assignment?
- To compare and contrast ideas?
- To persuade someone of your views?
- To inform the audience about a topic?
- Is there a minimum number of sources you need to have?
- What type of sources are required/ allowed?
- Primary, Secondary, scholarly, newspaper, books, reference, etc.
- Do you need to use peer-reviewed articles?
- Is there a particular citation format you need to use?
- Are there layout requirements? Paragraph spacing? Font size?
- How many pages or words should there be?
- Is a bibliography / reference list required?
2. Understand Your Topic
- Start by looking up background information about your topic
- Look up any words or phrases you are unsure of
- Use general and subject-specific reference sources (online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, dictionaries, Google Search, etc.)
- Background information will give you an idea of how much and what kind of information is available on a particular topic
- Background information will also introduce you to potential keywords
3. Identify Keywords and Develop a Search Strategy
- Brainstorm and develop keywords from your topic guidelines and background information research
- Generate related terms and narrow terms; look for synonyms to optimize your search
- Use Boolean Operators to combine your keywords together in different ways to create search strings
4. Decide on a Source
- Determine which resource you need to use, depending on the purpose and requirements of your assignment and the topic
- Do you need journal articles? Magazines? Authority websites? Newspapers?
5. Search for Information
- Enter your search strings to find the most relevant results
- Apply strategies on the results page to narrow, broaden, filter and limit your results
6. Evaluate Information
- Once you have selected an item, decide if it provides Current, Accurate and Relevant information
- Is it appropriate for your needs?
7. Organize, Manage and Present your Information
- Export and save your information; Keep track of your resources!
- Prepare and present your information in a meaningful way
- How do your sources support your assignment purpose?
- Use the information responsibly and ethically by paraphrasing and referencing other people’s ideas and words and creating a bibliography or reference list.