Research Basics Finding the information you need

Database vs. Google

Use the right tool for the job.

Looking for a needle in a haystack?

Don't know where to start? Click the Electronic Resources link on the district's Student Bookmarks page to begin using one of several searchable databases you have access to. Or, click the link below, then select your school from the list to access your school's page.

Keyword Power Searches

Just typing your keyword into the search field will return too many results to ever review. Use the basic and advanced search options to help narrow your search and find exactly what you're looking for.

Use the tools at the right of the results page to get help saving good articles, creating notes, sharing with friends, and properly citing your source. You are citing your sources, right?

Take some time to search the Gale collection of reference databases. The Student Resources page is organized by topic to help you find information more quickly.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library contains a variety of topic-specific encyclopedias and other reference books. The World Book and Grolier links are simple, online, searchable versions of the encyclopedia sets your parents probably used. They are a good place to get basic background information on your topic, but probably won't be as current or timely as the information you find elsewhere.

World and U.S. History links will take you to databases targeting information both from around the world, and about past events in our country's history.

Research & Citations links will help you properly cite your research sources. Be careful, because different classes and projects might have different expectations for the specific citation format. Ask your teacher if you are not sure which citation format to use.

Issues and Health links will help you access the Gale databases, which have been pre-organized into health topics, issues with opposing viewpoints, and environmental issues.

Need to search for a school-appropriate, copyright-free image? The district has a list of sites you can search for free, public photos you can use for your schoolwork. Learn360 also provides you access to videos on a variety of topics.

Public libraries are a great resource for access to books and periodicals we might not have direct access to through our school libraries. If you have a Washington County Library Card, you can even download e-books, place holds for print copies of books you would like, and renew books, and manage your account.

Though listed under College, Careers & Test Prep, the Learning Express link takes you to a resource page with links to a variety of outstanding searchable databases, managed by the Oregon School Library Information System. There are some duplicates of what we have on our school pages, but it's worth a look, as there is some excellent information here.

Don't get lost in a sea of information.

Google is an amazing tool, but just like many other tools, you can get into trouble if you don't know how to use it properly. For example, a search of the word "America" returns about 2,130,000,000 results in a mere 0.81 seconds. Yes, that is more than two billion results. To use Google efficiently, you need to learn how to narrow your search to find just the results you are looking for.

Adding some simple symbols or words to your search will help. For instance, placing a phrase in quotes will narrow the results to only include websites that contain an exact match for that term. Click here for a list of a few of the best search modifiers to help you.

There is a dizzying amount of mis-information out there and knowing what to trust is difficult. It is up to you to evaluate your research and your sources.

Credibility: Who is the author? What are the author's qualifications? Why should you trust them? Where did they get their information?

Accuracy: Is the information up-to-date and factual? Is the page written well (good grammar and punctuation)? Does the source use words like always and never, or more qualified terms like usually, sometimes, or seldom?

Reasonableness: Does the source attempt to present information in a balanced, fair, and reasoned argument? Does the source attempt to sway the reader to one side, or does it simply present information?

Support: Does the source cite where their information came from? Is there a bibliography included? Does the author provide contact information?

Choosing a research topic can be difficult. Don't get frustrated! There are resources to help you find a topic, complete your research, and craft your writing.

Avoid Plagiarism!

Nobody expects you to sound better than the professional writers of the sources you are using. It is expected, however, that you are using your own words and your own voice in your writing. If you aren't sure how to paraphrase without just copying someone else's writing, ask your teacher! Also, use the link below to learn some safe practices to avoid plagiarism.

Created By
Steve Lent ~ Mountain View LITT

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