When beginning research you should

  • think about what you already know about your topic; figure out what it is that you need to know to complete the task/assignment

If you don't know anything, start with some basic information from an encyclopedia such as World Book Online, Encyclopedia Britannica, or if your topic is "pop culture" related, you may need to use Wikipedia. Encyclopedias are great for background information on a topic but you should be going deeper than the surface information provided in an encyclopedia.
  • brainstorm keywords related to your topic that you will use to find information; figure out where you will look for information

You should probably have at least 5 words or phrases you're going to use to search an index or keywords in databases. Think about possible sources of information--go beyond encyclopedias and the internet. Would an interview be helpful? Are there photographs that would help you understand your topic better? Consider using books, magazines, websites recommended by DartClix (see PowerLibrary)
  • locate sources of information and the pages which have the information you need within those sources

Be sure that you've got the required number of resources to meet the teacher's assignment requirements. Keep track of all of your sources of information so that you're able to create your works cited page.
  • read through your sources and take notes; if a source is not helpful, find something else that will work for you

This is the time to read, find answers, ask more questions and explore.
  • sort through and organize your information; determine how you'll present your information

Figure out what of the information you gathered meets your needs and arrange it so you can write your paper, project, powerpoint, etc. If you're looking for images or music for a presentation, consider using one of the many resources on Joyce Valenza's Copyright Friendly wiki.
  • assess your work; consider both the paper/project you've done and the process you went through

Make sure that you look over your project and compare it to the rubric your teacher will use to grade it. Can you live with the grade you'll get for the work you've done? If not, go back to one of the above steps and continue your work until you're satisfied with the grade you will earn. Think about the problems and successes you had in the course of doing your search for information. Where can you improve so that it's easier next time?


This research process model <Big6Handouts.pdf> is based on The Big6 by Michael Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz.