aka "Research Strategy" and "Search Strategy"
1. Choose Topic
|Think of a few possible topics.
List keywords and subjects.
Do some preliminary research in subject encyclopedias and easily-accessible databases.
Re-evaluate and clarify the topic as necessary.
|Should I narrow this topic?
Should I broaden this topic?
Do I have enough information now?
Will I be able to find enough information easily?
Am I willing to spend more time searching?
Should I use a different or new topic?
2. Make a Plan
|Decide how much information is needed.
Decide what types of information will be needed.
Decide on which indexes or databases you will search.
Make a timeline.
|Do I need articles or books or both?
Will I need scholarly or popular resources?
Which specific databases will be best to use?
Will I need to look up background information in encyclopedias?
How much time can I spend researching?
3. Begin Researching
|Systematically begin to follow the plan you have made.
Find citations or sources.
Evaluate each citation carefully using critical thinking skills. Decide if it's worth actually finding the item.
|Is this information appropriate?
Who wrote it? Where did it come from?
Can it be trusted? Is it biased? Accurate? Timely?
Is it easily available? Or will I have to go to other libraries?
Am I still happy with this topic?
Should I start over and get a new topic?
4. Find the Material
|Evaluate each item carefully.||Is there a bibliography or are there footnotes that lead me to other important works on the topic?
Does the index or table of contents (of a book) lead me easily to the appropriate section?
Is this information at a level that I can read and comprehend?
Does this information seem on target and important to my research?
Is this information going to help me understand my topic and write my paper?
Do I need to read this?
5. Read the material.
Remember: this is a process that requires continuing evaluation and revision.
|Am I learning what I need to learn about my topic?
Am I still happy with the topic?
Have I found the information that best serves my purposes?