Intro to Research

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Get Ready For....

  • Search Engines
  • Should I Use Wikipedia?
  • Boolean Search
  • Databases
  • Citation Tools

Let's Start With What You Know

Big picture

Search engines ARE NOT DATABASES - they are only indexes of the web!
Big picture

How Do You Know?

What's real? What's Fake? Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. ~ WSJ 11/21/16

Big picture
Big picture

Start at Wikipedia...SERIOUSLY!


Never use Wikipedia as a citation in your academic work; USE WIKIPEDIA to get a basic understanding and to learn key words and topics related to your research.

Big picture


  • Access to published, reliable information.
  • You still have to evaluate information found in databases to identify bias and opinion.
What Are Databases and Why You Need Them
Big picture

1. Go to the database

Explora is the Preferred Database for SFC - ACCESS THROUGH SCHOOLOGY LIBRARY GROUP

Big picture
>>>Library Group
>>>On the left side select "Resources"

>>>Scroll down and Select "Databases" 2x

Access Explora Database

Updated Nov. 2019

2. Search the database

  • Start with a general search and then narrow down using an advanced search
Big picture


Get more specific and narrow your search results by completing an advanced or "boolean" search.


Combining Search Terms
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

3. Look at your results

Big picture

Database results are "tagged" for keywords & subjects - just like Twitter & Instagram

  • keyword = title, article, subject
  • subject = tagged article
Big picture

4a. Look at your results

Scan the page of results...does your initial search *appear* to locate the information you were looking for? If yes, start narrowing those results. If not, complete another search using different words.
Big picture
Databases, depending on the search, provide the user with many different "types" of results. *** ARE THE MOST COMMONLY USED RESULTS***

  • Biographies provide reference (encyclopedia) type information
  • *Magazines* provide all types (opinion, informative, persuasive, etc) articles. They've been published in "reliable" resources and target general audiences (no expertise needed)
  • Books provided by databases are usually chapters or sections from textbooks or reference materials
  • Reviews are published reviews of books specific to the topic
  • *Academic Journals* are peer-reviewed (someone has fact-checked the information) magazines that focus on a specific area study
  • *News* are articles printed from national and world-wide newspaper organizations and news services; the results can include news, opinion, op-ed, persuasive types of articles
  • Encyclopedias results come from general and specialized encyclopedias

4b. Narrow your results

You can limit your results by:

  • date
  • source type
  • lexile (reading level)
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

5. Skim & Scan for Relevance

Look at the following things to see if the information is of value to you

  • Database decides what is "Relevant" - use your brain to decide
  • Source of publication (do a Google Search if you don't know what it is)
  • Date of publication
  • READ - title, summary, tags ... is this the direction you want to go?
  • OPEN the article and read the first few paragraphs - these are non-fiction, you will generally know if the intent of the article is useful for your project.

Big picture

5b. Smash & Grab vs. Slow Thinking

  • Smash & Grab = Save, download, email as many sources that you "think" will be useful by reading title, subject tags, first few paragraphs. Go back later and read article for information. Good because you get a lot of resources (especially if you don't have internet at home); Bad because you have a bunch of resources you try to link together - may not get the information you want.
  • Slow Thinking = Read each resource as you go along. Good because it allows time to determine usefulness & relevancy; Bad (for some students) because it gives the appearance that you aren't making progress, that others may be ahead of you.

Whatever your have to READ! DO THE WORK!!!

Big picture


Download, email, save...
Big picture
Big picture


6.It's not about GOOD VS BAD resources, it's about RELEVANT & USEFUL resources

Many times students look for information "about" their topic, usually because they aren't sure what they are looking for or what they need. Eventually, you have to move from "about" to relevance and usefulness, which is determined by context. Start thinking in these terms:

  • Relevance
  • Usefulness
  • Context
  • Authority


Closely related to the topic, connected.
Big picture


Assist, beneficial, valuable
Big picture

Context & Authority


setting, circumstances, conditions


specialist, knowledge, experience

Big picture

Citing, References, Works Cited, etc....USE NOODLETOOLS

NoodleTools is a research tool that can be used for your research from beginning to end. Most students use it for the citation creator ---DO NOT USE EASYBIB! Students must create the account at school, but then may access it from anywhere. If using the Gale Databases, you can export the citation directly from Gale to NoodleTools.