Jennifer Matsuura » Research Help

Research Help

The Research Process

1. Identify and develop your topic ­- State the topic as a question and identify key words in your question.
2. Find background information - Look up keywords in the indexes of encyclopedias. Read articles in the encyclopedias and take note of any important information in the bibliographies at the end of the articles.
3. Use catalogs to find books and media ­- Use the keywords to search for information by topic or subject. Print or write down the citation (author, title, etc.) and location (call number, library). Look through the bibliographies of your books to find additional resources.
4. Use internet resources ­- Use Google and its branches (Google Scholar, Google News, Google Books, Youtube) to find information on the internet.
5. Evaluate what you’ve found ­- Evaluate the authority and accuracy of the information you’ve found. If you have too many or too few resources, you may need to narrow or broaden your topic.
6. Cite your sources ­- Citing your sources gives credit to the authors of the materials you used and allows the reader to duplicate your research.

Evaluating Websites ­ 
When evaluating websites to use as sources in research papers, I like to use the CRAAP Test.
CRAAP stands for: Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose

Currency: The timeliness of the information.
  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?
Authority: The source of the information.
  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
  • examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?