What is a Research Project? (Springfield Township Library's Research Guide)

A research project, whether it is a traditional paper, a video, or a multimedia presentation, is the end product of a thinking process which involves student-centered questioning.

Research is a life skill. We are always seeking information. What car or stereo should I buy? Which college should I choose? Which book should I read next? How can I sell this idea to my boss? How can I convince the school board to act on my proposal? Our ability to use information helps us reach conclusions, make our choices, and communicate more effectively.

Just as the careful car stereo buyer may "research" Consumer Reports and ask friends for comments about which model is the best, the careful student researches a topic in the process of thinking through his or her project. It is important to triangulate information by checking a variety of sources.  The car or stereo buyer may consult as many different, reliable sources as possible, makes notes, asks questions, consults additional sources, develops a point of view based upon all of the information he has found. As students gather information to reach a conclusion or support a hypothesis, they develop lifelong skills of information fluency.

Information fluency is the ability to access, evaluate and use information from multiple formats -- books, newspapers, videos, the Web, or any other medium. Information fluency is a set of competencies, skills that will grow with students, even when current operating systems, search engines, or platforms are obsolete. Information problem solving skills are required across all disciplines.

The California Department of Education just approved new School Library Standards

The Standards describe how learners use skills, resources, and tools to
  1. inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge;
  2. draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge;
  3. share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society;
  4. pursue personal and aesthetic growth.
Where Do I Start?