HOW TO RESEARCH
- The Research Process: explained in 6 steps
- Types of Sources
- Finding Reliable Sources
- Search Tips
- Disinformation, Misinformation, and Media Literacy
- Taking and Organizing Notes
The Research Process: explained in 6 steps
Types of Sources
#1. Decide which types of resources and the range of resources which will best meet your needs.
Print (paper and online): Books, encyclopedias, magazines, professional journals, primary sources such as diaries, newspapers, personal journals, maps, photographs.
Human sources: Practitioners and researchers such as doctors, teachers, university professors, other professionals and any other expert in the field of study for the subject you are researching. Laymen (ordinary people) can be useful when you are conducting a survey, just needing opinions, or if you are finding oral history of an area. You may be a resource if you are conducting an experiment or making observations. Find people at the following places: institutions of higher education, businesses, professional agencies such as law and accounting offices, nonprofit organizations such as Red Cross and United Way, service agencies such as hospitals, clinics, police stations, and so forth.
Primary sources: Sources that were written as a first hand account; they are original creations. Examples: newspapers, diaries, letters, speeches, interviews, scientific experiments, research results, artistic creations like art or music.
Secondary sources: Sources that are second hand accounts; they have the benefit of hindsight and/or are original creations using primary sources as references. Examples: newspapers, magazine articles, biographies, journal articles, literary criticism, nonfiction books.
Tertiary sources: Reference works that may lead you to primary or secondary resources. Often, these sources do not qualify for academic research purposes but are very helpful in getting background information and facts. Examples: dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses, bibliographies.
#2. Choose the best and most authoritative sources.
How do you know which are best? Here is a question to consider:
"Which sources would the leading academic professionals (researchers and university professors) use?" (hint: probably not a general Google search)
Finding Reliable Sources
credibility (noun): The trustworthiness or reliability of something
Determining the Credibility of a Source:
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your sources are credible is to stay away from basic Google internet searches. Anyone can publish anything on the internet, so if you're not careful, you can be partly responsible for sharing misinformation or disinformation. This video from Factcheck.org will give you some strategies to help identify news that is not true. This 5-minute video will show you some examples of dramatic headlines that are incorrect; see whether you can spot the problems. (Ignore the ads, of course.)
Use the provided databases that the school provides (EBSCO & WorldBook) and the additional free academic search engines. But, if you must venture out into the world of unregulated internet searching, make sure to run your source through these few "tests."
Evaluating Sources for Credibility (YouTube video explanation)
TRAAP Method (explained by Librarian Liz Johns @ Johns Hopkins University)
Lateral Reading – explains how to check yourself and the sources themselves while you are reading / researching
Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.
If you search with these connector words:
|This is how the system searches:
|OR retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "OR" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.|
|AND retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "AND" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.|
|NOT eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "NOT" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database 'help screen' to know for sure.|
Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.
Warning: Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant.
cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.
It's best to use the boolean operator "OR" in these instances (like: cat OR cats).
Some databases allow for wild cards to be embedded within a word to replace a single character. For instance, in EBSCO and Infotrac, you can also use the question mark (?) within a word to replace a character.
wom?n will retrieve woman or women
**** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****
"Boolean Searching and Truncation.” CSUN University Library, 2009, https://library.csun.edu/ResearchAssistance/BooleanSearching.
Disinformation, Misinformation, and Media Literacy
Taking and Organizing Notes
Click here for different examples of "note-making"
Note taking form (blank template) -- open and save a copy to your Google Drive