Know, Understand, Do

Support & Tips

Step 1:

Set Goals

  • How to select a supported topic.
  • How to narrow and/or broaden a topic.
  • That successful and efficient researchers set goals and follow a proven research process to achieve them.
  • Select "Supported Topics" based on topical interest, available information, and teacher quidelines prior to presenting topic choice to teacher.

Identifying a "Supported Topic"
Identifying Focus Topics
  • Scan the Table of Contents of a good book on topic
  • Scan the Index of a good book on topic
  • Scan a good article on the topic for organizational headings
Librarian Suggestions

Step 2:

Learn Basics


  • Where to obtain overview information
  • How to identify what overview facts are needed for a chosen topic.


  • That successful and efficient researchers use basic overview knowledge to plan and guide them through the research process.


  • Get pertinent overview information to facilitate following steps in research process.

Overview Resources
  • General encyclopedia
  • Definition: An alphabetically arranged reference book that covers a broad range of general topics. Learn to distinquish this from a specialized encyclopedia that focuses on one specific topic like The Dictionary of American History does with American History.
  • Note: Many teachers in the Hempfield School District limit the use of General Encyclopedias but do not limit the use of Specialized Encyclopedias.
    • Encyclopedia Americana (In classroom)
    • World Book Encyclopedia (In classroom)
  • Specialized Encyclopedia (Focused on a specific topic.)

Overview Questions

  • People Topic Overviews:
  • Dates they were famous?
  • What they are famous for?
  • Where did they do what they are famous for?
  • Who did they do it with?
  • Event Topic Overviews:
  • Why did this event occur?
  • When did this event happen?
  • Where did event take place?
  • Who was involved?
  • What is the importance of this topic in relationship to what you are studying in class?
  • General Topic Overviews:
  • What category does your topic fall under?
  • Who was involved?
  • Where did this happen?
  • When did this occur?
  • What is the importance of this topic in relationship to what you are studying in class?

Step 3:

Select Keywords


  • Keywords are the words that are used to locate information in print or online indexes.
  • Resources for identification of "topic specific" and "good" keywords.


  • That keywords are topic specific and may vary by resource.
  • That keywords used have a direct correlation with the quality of the information found and the amount of quality information missed during the search.


  • Identify "good" and "topic-specific" keywords.

Keyword Resources
  • "Guide" webpage: RSSupport Sub-Page Keywords
  • Sears List of Subject Headings (In Library Classroom)
  • Also found at bottom of reference book articles and in the record information of an article in online subscription database (See list of indexes in "Select Tools" section of this planner).
Keyword Help and Sampling of Keywords and Main Call Numbers

Step 4:

String Together


  • How a computer conducts a search in an electronic databases
  • How Boolean, Phrase, and Truncation operators direct electronic searches.


  • That thoughtful search strings provide better results


  • Write and employ thoughtful search strings

How To Do This

  • "Guide" webpage: RSSupport SubPage All About Strings
  • Write down your most important keyword.
  • If it is more than two words put in quotes (phrase)
  • Next write down one of your focus keywords to right leaving a little room between the two words.
  • If this term is more than two words long put in quotes (phrase)
  • Determine your "Boolean Operator" based on where you want your keywords to appear in the articles or webpages
  • Place this operator between your two keywords and you have your string
  • "American Revolution" OR "American Revolutionary War"
  • cooking AND "colonial America" AND history
Boolean Website Resource

Step 5:

Select Media


  • The pros and cons of different media types for different research needs
  • Available research tools and their media content
  • Reliability of resources provided by different research tools.


  • Using the right tool(s) for the job is essential to finding good and relevant information on a topic.
  • Poor choice of media may lead to bias, mis-informative, and non-relevant resources.


  • Choose to use topically relevant, appropriate, and reliable media tools and resources.

  • Librarian Recommendations are on respective planners.
Multi-Media (with more than one type of media
* Librarian Recommendations are on respective planners.

Step 6:

Use Tools


  • How to use print and non-print indexes and/or database interfaces to conduct searches for needed information
  • How to manipulate electronic results lists
  • How to take advantage of database and browser features to identify needed information within records.


  • Successful and efficient researchers take advantage of all features of chosen research tools in order to improve their results.


  • Use search tools efficiently and effectively.

Finding Books Tips
  • Screencast: How to Create a Destiny Resource List
  • Create a Destiny Resource List of Relevant Sources
  • Remember to ask your librarian for help.....they were the first and ultimate search engine!
Selected Book Resources
Selected Website Resources
  • Librarian Recommendations are on respective planners.

Step 7:



  • How to use page and record prompts to promote understanding of information retrieved
  • Some reading strategies: thinking outloud, and talking to the text


  • Successful and efficient researchers have developed strategies that have made it easier to move through, develop understanding of, interpret, and evaluate text


  • Read for understanding

Selected "Understanding" Resources
Selected Information Evaluation Resources
  • Important Understanding: If you select and use ONLY reliable media to find your information you do not have to evaluate information found. When information is found using commercial or non-suggested librarian media all information found must be evaluated for accuracy and reliability!
  • Kathy Schrock's Guide For Educators - Critical Evaluation Surveys and Resources

Step 8:

Take Notes


  • How to identify main idea and important facts from information retrieved
  • How to classify accumulated main ideas and important facts
  • How to archive accumulated main ideas and important facts


  • That well classified and archived main ideas and important facts makes it easier to design, produce the research project.


  • Abstract meaningful and research relevant information from retrieved resources
  • Classify and record main ideas and important facts in a manner that makes it easy to retreive and use.

Recommended Note-Taking Resources

Step 9:



  • How to re-organize notes to present knowledge and meet research goals (ie. outlines, story boards, graphic organizers)


  • That a thoughtful design anticipates and addresses potential problems and is guided by the research goal(s).
  • Pre-planning usually reduces production time and potential last minute problems.


  • Take time to think about and design research projects in accordance with research goals and adherence to assessment guidelines

Recommended Designing Tips
  • Before taking this step:
  • Review Teacher provided guidelines and rubrics
  • Review and refine focus topics based on accumulated notes

Recommended Designing Resources

Step 10:



  • Different ways of conveying understanding in a new manner and product. (i.e SlideShow, Research Paper, Website, Podcast)
  • How to give proper credit for the works of others used in the development of the product


  • That the product must clearly convey and not distract from the message.


  • Create works that show and demonstrate your understanding and learning,address your goals, and show incorporation of personal ideas, interpretation and evaluation of information
  • Give proper credit

As You Assemble Your Project, Remember
  • To keep your Goals in mind
  • To keep your Teacher's Goals in mind
  • Your subject teacher is your greatest resource during this part of the project. (By asking thoughtful questions you are showing your teacher you are at "least" thinking about the project.)
  • To focus on your "focus topics" (Don't get side-tracked.)
  • Incorporate your personal understanding or interpretation of the topic. (You are creating something new!)
  • Cite everytime you use someone else's work. (This includes all media types, including pictures, audio, video, and webpages.)
  • You CANNOT use information for which you have forgotten or can't re-find the source identification.
Give Proper Credit (MLA Bibliographic Citation Format)
  • "Guide" webpage: Research Guides: Cite Right
  • Includes Power Point Presentations and Links to additional "help" resources
  • "Guide" webpage: RSSupport MLA Support
  • "Guide" webpage: RSSupport NoodleBib Support
  • Includes PDF files to all librarian created citation worksheets
  • Handout: CMS MLA Booklet (16 page Booklet with numerous citation examples. All CMS students were given a copy of this booklet during their first research project in the library.)
  • Librarian class tip reminder: Put your hand into it!
MLA Citation Resource and Tool
Recommended Citation Resources

Step 11:

Grade Yourself


  • How to use teacher assessment tools to evaluate a product
  • How to assess the steps in the research process.


  • That this will not be the last time they will do a research project and a few minutes of reflection may save hours of work and improve their grades the next time.


  • Evaluate the product according to assessment guidelines prior to submission.
  • Evaluate the steps in the research process to identify potential areas of improvement or efficiency.

Evaluating your product before project is turned in...
  • Did you meet the goals you set for yourself?
  • Did you meet your teacher's goals?
  • Could others see your personal input into this project?
  • Did you properly cite all resources used?
Evaluating your process after project submission...
  • What research steps were the hardest for you?
  • How long did it take you to complete each step in the process and how can you streamline your efforts?
  • What organizational problems did you have and how can you avoid them in the future?
  • What reading and writing problems did you have and how can you avoid them in the future?
  • Did your teacher's grade accurately reflect your effort? If not, why do you think this is?
  • How can you make this process easier next time?

Other Research Guides with Great Information

This webpage was created on: 14 June 2009
This webpage was last updated on: 10 February 2010
This webpage was created by: CMS Librarian

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