Being Prepared to Research

By Amy Graham

How to Gather Relevant Information

Gathering relevant information is key for any research project. If your researching cats you wouldn't want to research dogs. While google is helpful at times, it's not quite ideal for a research project as it may not always give relevant or accurate answers. It's not designed specially for students researching, but there are sites that are! Research databases are the best option when doing a research project. They provide accurate results and specify to only what YOU need when searching. Here are some of the best:

For projects regarding any type of topic: (

How to Use Keywords to Search Efficiently

When using one of the recommended databases, it is not a good idea to search using your question as you most of the time would on google. Below is an example of what not to search and what pops up when you search incorrectly on databases. The research question for this is "Why do dogs bark at other animals?"

Using Keywords Efficiently (cont.)

To get good search results you need keywords. The database used above has an advanced search tool where you can enter three keywords and get search results. If the question was "Why do scientists believe there is water on mars?" Then our keywords could be "Mars" "Water" "Science". If we don't get enough results then we could try taking a keyword out. For the above research question, we could take out science. Look what happens when we use keywords instead of a question using the question "Why do dogs bark at other animals?"

How to decide if a website is a good resource?

Follow these steps to decide if a website is a good source

Look at the URL

URL's that end in org; gov; edu are more likely to be good resources than sites ending in com

Can you verify the info on two other credible sites

Are there ads on the page?

If so it is more likely to be credible

Can you verify the author and their contact info?

What is the difference between quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing


Copying the author's thought directly


Taking the author's words and rephrasing them


Taking a larger body of words and condensing it to describe a paragraph in one to two sentences

What is plagiarism and how do I avoid it?

Plagiarism: The act of taking someone else's idea's or work and claiming it as your own

How do I avoid it?

Citing your work and not using too much of the authors work.

What is MLA Citation

MLA Citation is the most used form of citation. Using in text citations is the best way to cite. Citing by saying the author's last name and where the information is from.

What is a works cited page?

A works cited page is a page where you include the citations from your research.