Research Step-by-Step

Six Steps Guiding Questions Online Tools to Use
1.  Narrow your topic.
  • What is it exactly you need to find out?
    • Put it in your own words.
    • Look up meanings of unknown words or concepts.
    • Think of what you already know about that topic.
  • What are the key words you could use to search with? What are some synonyms for them?

These sites can help you define your topic:

2.  Find information.
  • Where can you get info that's accurate and credible?
    • Can you find it online for free faster? or would you have better luck going to published online books and journals?
      • Any of the RHS article databases?
      • From books in the Media Center or Rochester Hills Public Library?
    • Do you need current information? Which news sources would be good ones?
    • Anyone you know to ask? Experts you could email?

Start with RHS Digital Backpack's Research Tools:

  1. Information Databases
  2. Info Databases @ Rochester Hills Public Library
  3. Books Online (text and audio)
  4. Reference Sources
  5. RSS Feeds and Alerts
  6. Topic Helpers
  7. Search Engines:
3.  Choose what you need.

Scan web sites and articles to select good information.

  • Does it have what you're looking for?
  • Which sections are relevant to your topic?
  • Which sections can you skip?
  • Does it give factual information or is it more about someone's opinion?
  • Can you tell if it's reliable? Does anything look inaccurate?
    • Do you need to check it with another resource?

Save your web resources to an online bookmarking site:

And use these tools to make notes:

4.  Organize what you find.

Take notes.

  • What's the best way to organize your information?
    • In your notes, put quotes around sentences you'd like to use verbatim (word-for-word) from your resource.
    • Make a note of the source for any ideas you'll need to add an in-text citation to.
    • Keep information together that covers the same topic but is from different sources. This makes it easier to combine together.
    • Take a look and see if any information is missing - do you need to find more?
    • Do you need to use everything you found? Pull out the weeds and just keep the flowers.
  • Did you find out everything you needed to? Do you still have any unanswered questions?
  • What can you use to cite your sources?

Try an online organizer to help you out:

 Use these to help with citing your sources:

5.  Show it.

Create and share your research.

  • What's the best way to show what you've learned?
    • Would using photos or visuals be useful?
    • How about animations or movies?
  • Consider who will be seeing it and what they might already know or not know about your topic.

How to correctly format your printed paper:

Other presentation tools:

See more choices on the RHS Digital Backpack page.

6.  Evaluate it.

Check the rubric, assignment criteria, or have someone else look it over.

  • Did you answer your original question from step #1 thoroughly and accurately?
  • Which step was the most difficult for you? Which was the easist?
  • Did you allot yourself enough time to do a quality job?

Use these generic rubrics as a checklist before handing in your paper: