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Library 101 For Students: Research Steps

A short introduction to the CCBC Libraries

The Research Path is Never Perfect

Topic Ideas

Writing Websites

Below are some great websites to help get you started with college work, writing papers, doing research.

Research Steps

1. Research begins with questions.

  • What is the purpose of your research? Read the assignment carefully. Do you need to inform, persuade, entertain?
  • What is your topic or essential question?
  • What do you already know about the topic?
  • What are some keywords that describe the topic?
  • What are some related topics or sub-questions?

2. Develop your research plan.

  • When is the final product due? Create a timeline and don't wait until the last minute to do your research!
  • What type of final product will you create?     
  •  What type of information will you need?
  • How much information will you need?
  • Go from the general to the specific--find background information first and then find more detailed information.

3. Locate your information.

  • Where will you look for information? Books, Articles, Websites, Television, People?
  • Use the library catalog to find books, the library databases to find articles and carefully evaluate all websites you consider.
  • Keep track of all that you find using a research log.
  • Skim and scan the information that you find to identify relevant information.

4. Evaluate your information

  • Does the information answer your original questions?
  • Is the information accurate?
  • What is fact and what is opinion?
  • Is the information current?
  • What is the point of view of the author or publisher?
  • Ask yourself the questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why about each piece of information that you find.

5. Use your information

  • Create your presentation, paper, PowerPoint, speech, debate, etc.
  • Edit your work. Be sure that everything is spelled correctly.
  • Be sure that you have the correct number and type of sources.
  • Be sure that your final product meets the requirements of your assignment.
  • Cite your sources correctly. See the handouts on MLA 8, or APA style or click on the Citation Basics tab above.
  • Share what you have learned with your instructor and/or class.

Information Cycle

The Information Cycle (from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is the progression of media coverage of a particular newsworthy event.  Knowing about the information cycle will help you to better know what information is available on your topic and better evaluate information sources covering that topic.

Pictograph depicting "The Information Cycle"