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Researching

.. is all about understanding, choosing, and validating resources; compiling excellent note & bib cards; avoiding accidental plagiarism; creating an annotated bibliography; writing a formal outline. Most of your time will be spent working through the strategies noted here.


OUTLINE & INFORMATION

You will spend most of your time on this section. Conducting research efficiently, correctly and thoroughly is essential, and this part of the website is dedicated to helping you set up your personal process for research.

Research Process

You should always collect more material than you will eventually use 
                                                                                         William Zinsser

We live in the midst of the greatest explosion of information the world has ever seen so collecting more than you need should not be difficult! More information has been produced in the last fifty years than in the previous five thousand: 

* 50 000 books are published every year - just in the USA
* 10 000 magazines are published every year in the USA
* 70 000 scientific studies are written every day
* ONE edition of the NY Times contains more information than the educated * person in the 16th Centrury absorbed in their entire life
* The amount of information produced DOUBLES every two years!


SOURCES

To score highly in criterion C, which assesses your investigation, you must use an "imaginative range of appropriate sources". Have a close look at the rubric below:-

In the 21st Century, it is TOO easy to rely on the Internet. However, effective research papers use a mix of resources, which can be categorised into PRIMARY and SECONDARY sources. 

Primary Sources:

  • provide facts/viewpoints that may not be available from other sources
  • often have an immediacy and freshness that secondary sources lack
  • may be affected by the author’s bias
Secondary Sources:
  • may offer a broader perspective than primary sources
  • tend to be less immediate than primary sources
  • may be affected by the author’s bias

WHERE DO I FIND MY SOURCES?

There are many different research tools available to help you find sources for your research, including, but not limited to, databases, Web search engines, government Web sites, book catalogs, and online reference tools such as encyclopedias and directories. Different types of research tools have different characteristics. Your research question will dictate what kinds of sources you will need and what research tools you will use to find them. If you need very recent information, a journal article or Web site might be more useful than a book, but always check the date of any source you find. If your focus is multinational, look for databases that include international sources.

Currency and Reliability

New ideas will often appear informally—on a blog, at a conference, or as a news item—before being studied and reviewed by scholars. Sometimes your information need requires extremely current, up-to-date information, even if it has not been verified or reviewed by experts. This is where sources such as blogs, popular magazines, and conference proceedings come in handy. But sometimes, you will need to find and use only those information sources that have been thoroughly reviewed by experts or even replicated by other researchers. Sources can be both current and reliable, but make sure you understand the distinction and how to assess both currency and reliability.


HOW DO I EVALUATE MY SOURCES?

The Information Cycle


DIFFERENCES BETWEEN POPULAR & SCHOLARLY


SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

FEATURES OF SCHOLARLY ARTICLES


INTERNET SEARCHING

Web Search Tools


Don't waste valuable time by typing in unhelpful search terms.  Download and print the tips and tricks poster to the right and have a go at the Google Power Search course below. 


Want to become a Power Searcher?  Google Education offer a great free course that teaches you to become a better Internet searcher.

The skills are perfect for IB learners - and EE in particular.  Follow the link to watch the lessons and you too can become a Google Power Searcher!

EVALUATING WEB SOURCES
Librarian Esther Grassian at the UCLA College Library has created an excellent Web-evaluation checklist in Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources.

AVOIDING PLAGIARISM
CLICK HERE for details about Academic Honesty.