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Research Step 2: Gather

Once you have a question to study it is time to gather the information you will need to make a convincing argument.

 These are some of the tools you will need, to gather your information.

1.  Keywords: Are words or short phrases that are closely related to your topic.  Searching for the right keywords will make your research easier.  If you don't know much about your topic  Google and  Wikipedia are good tools to get started.  On them you can read short articles on your topic to learn some good  search terms. View video for tips on web searching.

*****Do not use Google or Wikipedia for your whole paper.  Wikipedia and Google both access articles that anyone can write.   Some of those articles and fantastic and others or horrible.  You always have to be skeptical when looking at these sources. However, they are very fast and easy to use and can be helpful in learning introductory information about your topic.

2. Know the difference between scholarly versus popular resources.  Scholarly journals are usually written by experts for other people in their fields.  Popular magazines are written to be read for fun.  (Examples of scholarly journals would be: Journal of Education, or Journal of Medicine.  Examples of popular resources would be Jet, People, ESPN.)

3.Evaluating Websites: Not every website has reliable information. Use the CRAP test to help determine the value of the source. 

(The CRAPP test) Currency (is the website current?) 

Reliability (Is the information from a reliable or trustworty source?)

Authority (is the author an auhority on the topic?)

Point of view/Purpose (is this website trying to convince you of something?) (View a worksheet or download it in Word from the link at the bottom of this page.)

4. Use databases to find information. Databases are collections of information that you can access electronically. The articles in the databases may come from books, magazines, newspaper articles and more.  The educational databases are considered much more reliable than most web pages.  They are usually considered more authoritative.  They may include popular sources, but they will definitely include scholarly resources. You can find a list of good databases on the South/Resources page under "Research Websites".

5. Recording information: How will you record your notes? There are many different ways to keep track of the information you find.  Many databases will allow you to e-mail the article to yourself.  Cornell Notes may be helpful for some people.  Other ways of recording information include, typing information into a Word document, hand writing note cards, or printing out articles and highlighting pertinent information.  Make sure you get the bibliographic information when you take notes. 

6. Citing Sources:  As  you collect your information you will need to keep track of the bibliographic information.  (Author name, date of publication, Title of Publication,  Page number of article, Title of Article, etc)  Two useful  tools for Citing Sources are Son of Citation Machine and Easybib


A valuable source for information can be people.  This handout can give you tips for conducting good interviews.

document CRAP test worksheet document   --  Use this worksheet to evaluate websites.