Research: A Process?

A research project, whether it is a traditional paper, a video, or an oral presentation, is the end product of a thinking process that involves student-centered questioning or inquiry.

Research is a life skill. We are always seeking information. What car or bike should I buy? Which college should I choose? Which book should I read next? How can I sell this idea to my boss? How can I convince the school board to act on my proposal? Should I have this surgery? Our ability to use information helps us reach conclusions, make decisions, and communicate more effectively.

Just as the careful bicycle buyer may "research" Consumer Reports and ask friends for comments about which model is the best, the careful student researches a topic in the process of thinking through his or her project. It is important to triangulate information by checking a variety of sources. The bike buyer may consult as many different, reliable sources as possible, makes notes, asks questions, consults additional sources, develops a point of view based upon all of the information he has found. As students gather information to reach a conclusion or support a hypothesis, they develop lifelong skills of information fluency.

Information fluency is the ability to access, evaluate, use and synthesize information from multiple formats, and to ethically create and share new knowledge in any of a variety of media. Information fluency is a set of competencies, skills that will grow with students, even when current operating systems, search tools, or platforms are obsolete. Information problem solving skills are required across all disciplines.

The research process and the writing process are connected. Research is of little value unless you can effectively communicate your new knowledge. The same skills that you use to write an expository paper are used to develop the research paper or a project in any medium. The research process is recursive. Although we describe steps, you will find yourself going back and forth among the steps, returning to several as you refine your work.

If research is a process, what are the steps?

1. PRE-SEARCH: Students pick a topic/question of interest (or a limited list of 10-20 topics/questions to choose from?) and develop keywords. Students learn the difference between a SUBJECT SEARCH and a KEYWORD SEARCH.

Students are introduced to instagrok: to develop keywords and narrow down a topic.

2. SEARCH AND CITE: Students hone in on 3 specific pieces of information from 3 sources (database and 2 different open sources) and discern credibility.

Using an "evaluating source" form, students can record what they find about their 3 sources with respect to authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency and coverage.

Students are introduced to EasyBib

(End Product: Students create a working bibliography that they will annotate. Students will be introduced to "citing" a source and the varied types of sources to cite.)

EasyBib Tutorials:

Resources for selecting and evaluating sources:

3. Organize and Analyze: Students will have to decide which 3 sources are the best to answer their question. They'll analyze and synthesize information found.

4. Create and Present: End Product: Annotated Bibliography of 10 sources. This will be created in EasyBib.

5. Share and Reflect: This will be up to the individual teacher.

Identifying and Dissecting Helpful Articles

(Questions to ask to assist with your annotations)

Is the article discussing your essay topic specifically? What leads you to believe that this article will be helpful for your essay? Be specific!

Are there clearly defined cause/effect relationships in the essay? Give at least two examples.

Do you have all of the works cited information available to you? Check to be sure that you have the article title, author, publication date, publisher, web address, etc., written down.

What are the main ideas in the article?


Opposing Viewpoints Database

Student Resources in Context Database