1. Task Definition - understand what the assignment is asking for. When is it due? How long does it have to be? How many sources do you need? Do you need print and online sources? Ask your teacher lots of clarification questions before you get started.

    2. Preliminary Research - do a bit of general reading about your topic to become more familiar with it. Pick up an encyclopedia or use an online encyclopedia to get a general overview.

    3. Brainstorm Keywords - make up a list of keywords that are similar to your topic or are related to the topic. Searching these words will give you more information than just searching topic word(s) alone.

    4. Search for Books - use the Destiny card catalog to identify any books on the topic held here at CB West and throughout the district. If you start your research early enough, you can use the links on the Catalogs page to search the local public library system and the AccessPA statewide catalog for books. If you request an inter-library loan for a book located elsewhere, it may take some time to get here. This is just one reason why it's important to NOT wait until the last minute.

    5. Search through Research Databases - use the Research Databases link to search through quality academic articles for your topic. Use Gale, ABC-CLIO and the dozens of databases on the POWER Library link.

    6. Document your Sources - don't forget to record the sources you consult and cite for your bibliography. Use our Works Cited Help link for specific examples, or our subscription to NoodleTools




    Beware the World Wide Web!!! Just because you find it on the internet, doesn't make it true and trustworthy. There are many more bad websites out there than there are good; that's why you are better off using books and databases for your research needs. That being said, there are good websites out there, you just have to be able to distinguish the good from the bad.

    When searching the web, you should take a critical look at the website you are thinking of using for your research paper. Ask yourself some key questions like "Who created this?" "What is their area of expertise?" "Do they cover the topic objectively, or are they biased?" "How recent is their info?"

    The "Alphabet Guide" below is a good guideline to follow to determine the quality of the website. If you can't find the answers to some of the questions below, AVOID using the site. There are other places you can go to look for information. If you have any further questions, ask Ms. Graney or your teacher.





    · Can you find an author for the website? Is there contact information for the author?

    · Does this person list his/her credentials?

    · Are they an authoritative source? (Do they have an advanced degree or proof of expertise?)

    · What is the domain name of the website (.org, .net, .edu, .gov, .com)? Is it someone’s personal website?


    B = BIAS

    · Does the information on the site appear to be one-sided (all negative or all positive)?

    · Does the website try to show a balanced view of both sides of an issue?

    · Does the website include inappropriate language when referring to the subject?

    · Does the site contain more opinion than fact?



    · Does the site cover the content comprehensively or are you left with more questions?

    · Are there obvious errors in the content, or spelling & grammatical mistakes?

    · Is the information at your comprehension level or is it too easy or too difficult?

    · Does the site include references, sources, or a bibliography?


    D = DATE

    · When was the website created? Is there a date?

    · Is the website regularly updated? When was the last update?

    · Is the information out of date or irrelevant?



    · Is the website easy to navigate?

    · Do all of the links work?

    · Is the website neat and organized or scattered and haphazard?

    · Can you easily link from one page to another?

    Alphabet Guide © Colleen Graney, 2003-2024.