Thursday, May 14, 2009

Research? Help!

When it comes to research, some people enjoy the thrill of the hunt, while others feel despair. I confess to being one of the former group and I hope I can persuade those of you who are not that it really can be quite enjoyable!

While there are many models for research, one that is particularly user friendly is the Big 6. These six simple steps will lead you systematically from your original question to a polished finished product.

Of course one of the major research questions people often have is where to look for information? Our school library subscribes to several useful databases (see details on the left) that provide safe, efficient access to information. Similarly, you can access many databases and websites screened for K-12 students via our local public library.

What about Wikipedia? It is very popular with many students and their parents, and it is a wonderful experiment in online collaboration as well as sometimes being a useful jumping off point. For example, Wikipedia's footnotes are often a good place to start your search. However, due to hoaxsters, human error and person bias it has its perils as compared to more traditional sources - as many journalists around the world recently learned to their chagrin!

Books remain a wonderful choice for research, particularly since using them -navigating a table of contents, index, etc. - teaches valuable skills about the organization of information that can sometimes be lost in an online environment. Many younger researchers with shakier keyboarding and spelling skills also find books easier to use.

So get out there and have fun researching!

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