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How to do research for a paper or project
Transcript of How to do research for a paper or project
Choose a topic.
Depending upon your instructor's guidelines, try to pick a topic that interests you.
Before choosing; keep in mind the length of your assignment and the due date.
Stay away from topics surrounded by personal opinions or experiences. Also, avoid personal hobbies, such as a craft, or a sport.
Also, try to choose a topic that has more than one source of information. A recent news story/event, although interesting, may not give you enough information to build a research paper around.
Step 3: Conducting your Research
Once you've chosen a topic, try to pull out key terms, or synonyms, to help broaden your search.
Lastly, keep a notebook or journal with you, so you can map out or write down ideas, brainstorms and thoughts as you go through the research process.
How do you research for a paper or project?
Once you've brainstormed ideas for a topic, then it's time to do some exploratory research.
Discuss your topic with your friends, your instructor or a librarian.
Think of what you may already know about the topic
Once you've done the research, you can modify or tweak your thesis statement so it accurately reflects what you've found and what you want to cover.
Use subject specific encyclopedias to learn more about your topic; such as, key terms, important dates, facts or people who shape your topic.
You have your key words, and basic information, now what?
First, you will need to start gathering reliable data about your topic.
Some things to remember while looking for sources.
Scholary vs. Popular Sources
More Tips on topics
But, you may wish to stay away from Wikipedia or other ".com" encyclopedias, because it is hard to verify if the information is correct.
What are Primary,Secondary & Tertiary Sources?
Step 2: Developing your thesis statement.
Use separate pages to record facts and ideas from each source.
Remember to add your source information to the page, such as title, author, publisher, date and/or page numbers and other crucial information about each source, so you don't have to look it up again later.
Writing down source information is the most crucial step, not only will it assist when writing your bibliography, or work cited page, but it is important to have ALL of your information handy when you're writing.
Step 4: Read, Take Notes, and Organize
Once you completed your notetaking, whether manually or electronically, it's time to organize your notes into headings and subheadings.
After you've organized your notes, then you can start with drafting an outline for your paper.
Outlines are essential,
DON'T SKIP THIS STEP.
It will assist in the structure of your paper and prevent you from going off on tangents.
Before you start writing, review the assignment requirements.
Also, remember your audience and what you wish to tell them about your topic.
Important tips about plagiarism in it's many forms
"If you quote it, note it!"
Revise, Revise, Revise!
Make an appointment at the ALC, or with one of the librarians, to review your paper. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
Read the paper out loud. If it doesn't sound correct, or isn't flowing, then it needs some revising.
Ask some friends to read your paper.
For more help on this topic, you can drop by or contact
You may use "Reference Management" tools instead of notecards. These tools assist you in keeping track of source information, quotes, and any notes you may have regarding your research.
Examples of "Reference Tools" are RefWorks, Endnote, CitULike, Zotero, and the references tab in MS Word..
Always allow time for revision! No one's first draft is perfect.
Your instructors are expecting that you gather information from credible sources.
The best way to locate credible sources is to start at the Fairbank Library.
Failing to write down source information will cause you to re-create your research and waste precious time.
You can look for books & e-books using the catalogue or you can use the library databases to gather information from professional journals and book chapters.
Why use the library when there is Google?
This is where the library saves you time and money!
What is a database?
A searchable collection of organized information
Internet Search Engine
information is organized to facilitate search & retrieval
content is purchased w/students needs in mind
Lots of quality, scholarly information
More control over your search
information is unorganized, search results are less precise
lots of free content (of varying quality)
All kinds of information mixed together (harder to find the scholarly stuff)
What kind of databases does the library have?
books & e-books
, use the library catalog
, use one of our many databases. Some have articles on all subjects, others are more specialized:
SocIndex (BHS, SWK)
Academic Search Premier
Look for print copy in other partner libraries
If "no copies are available" and you have a little time, you can request it via Inter-library Loan
Hover over this to see a little bit more about the article
"Full-text" will take you directly to the article
Searching the Library Catalogue
Tips for searching:
1). Identify the most important concepts in your research assignment
2). Choose keywords to describe those concepts
3). Brainstorm synonyms & terms related to your keywords
4). Type the keywords into the search box
Click on the title for more information
Location in Library # to write down to find the book If the book is available, in mending, signed out, etc.
Click here to see the e-book. you will need to enter your library card number & password to be allow to view any e-book
Searching for articles
Click on either of these two links to search for articles
On this page:
Get help with passwords or off-campus access
Jump quickly to the most popular databases
Search for databases by subject
You must enter your student ID/library card # and password to keep going. On campus, students will automatically allowed through.
Clicking on any of the links on page will take you here, if you are searching from home.
Ways to pinpoint your search results:
try different keywords
try subject headings
use database limiters
Try limiting your search to a smaller date range or to peer-reviewed journals only
Tips for searching:
1). Type 1-3 keywords and combine them with AND, OR, NOT
2). Try some of your synonyms & related terms if you are getting few results
Experiencing information overload?
(too many results)
Searching the internet
What the search engine is doing
BEFORE you search:
“Crawls” pages on the public web
Copies text & images, builds database
WHEN you search:Automatically ranks pages in your results
Word occurrence and location on page
Popularity - a link to a page is a vote for it
~ 200 factors in all!
Google, Bing, Yahoo, Exalead, etc.
Searching the web
Think “full text” = be specific
war of 1812 economic causes vs. history
Use academic & professional terms
compassion fatigue vs. burnout
Comparative social policy vs 'how is welfare different in Canada & the United States'
also try combinations with association, research center, institute, directory, database
Specify exact phrases - use " "
Exclude or require a word- use - or +
Cognitive therapy +addictions
Search synonyms - use ~
~cell phone (searches cellular phone, mobile, etc)
Limiting your search
Words must appear in web page title
Only search a certain website or domain
site:gov.mb.ca “foster child”
site:un.org “global warming”
File type - only certain kinds of files or images
filetype:ppt site:edu “global warming”
Has some full-text, just like library databases
You can use it to find out what exists
If you find it, but it's not full-text, request an Inter-library Loan on the library website.
We'll search out a copy for you
Make sure anything you find & use from here passes the CRAAP test
More about that in a minute
Going beyond Google
Get more options with
Exalead - http://www.exalead.com/search
Take advantage of human selectivity
Librarians’ Internet Index
InfoMine - http://infomine.ucr.edu/
Directory of Open Access Journals
Evaluating Web sites
Anyone can put up a web page
Many pages not updated
No quality control
People deliberately try to misinform, especially on controversial topics
most sites not “peer-reviewed”
less trustworthy than scholarly publications
Is the source
When was it published?
Has the information been revised or updated?
Does your topic require current information or will older information work as well?
Does this information relate to your topic or answer a research question?
Who is the intended audience?
Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining that this is the one you will use?
Is the source
Is the source
Who is the author and/or publisher?
What are the author's credentials or organization affiliations?
Does the url (.com, .org, .edu, .gov) reveal anything about the source?
Is the source
Is the information supported by evidence/citations?
Is the information peer-reviewed?
Can you verify the information provided?
What is the
Is it fact or opinion?
Are multiple perspectives presented?
Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
Does it pass the
Where & how to start
The Academic Learning Centre
Fairbank Memorial Library
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