Encounter the Research Task Encounter the Research Task
Skill 1: Initiate the research process.

If you conduct independent research with a topic of your own choosing, you would start at this skill in the research process. Since we are just beginning our research, we open with something that grabs our attention and gets us thinking and wondering about the topic or question we will investigate. We can start with something as simple as an object, a photograph, or a Web page that introduces us to the topic and sparks our curiosity. We can make connections by thinking about what we already know about this object, and how this relates to our own lives and world.

Skill-builders & Tools

Make Real World Connections

World Stimulate your curiosity to make real world connections with what you already know from personal experiences and knowledge. When you are first given a research assignment, you should:
  • Recognize your need for information to enhance what you may already know about a problem.

  • Become aware of an array of possibilities to explore.

  • Select a general area of need or concern.

  • Seek background information in order to extend your personal understanding.

  • Break down the task into its component parts using a timeline, a to do list, or research process flowchart.

Ask yourself one or more of the following questions:

  • Why is this important to me?
  • How is it relevant to my life?
  • Why is the topic or theme worth studying?
  • What is personally compelling about the inquiry?
  • Why does it matter?

Example responses are given below:

  • What is important to me?-My Future goals
  • How is it relevant to my life? After a month of physical therapy from a sport injury I decided to pursue sports medicine in college.
  • Why is the topic or theme worth studying? I would like to prevent others from suffering from injuries while pursuing sports.
  • What is personally compelling about the inquiry? I suffer a concussion while playing basketball during freshman year.
  • Why does it matter? Students pursuing different types and levels of high school sports are suffering from sports related injuries.

Use experiences and resources like the ones listed below to open your mind in order to determine what you might like to research further.  Read a book, story, or article; view a video; or visit a museum


  • Articles
  • Blogs
  • Books
  • Demonstrations
  • Diaries
  • Discussions
  • Documents
  • Essays
  • Expert testimony
  • Historical Objects
  • Maps
  • Museums
  • Models
  • Music recordings
  • Paintings
  • People
  • Photographs
  • Podcasts
  • Poems
  • Sculpture
  • Videos
  • Virtual Tours
  • Visual Art

For example:

  • View YouTube videos and read journal articles on sports medicine
  • Visit a Sports Medicine clinic and speak to one of the physicians-expert testimony

Primary and Secondary Sources

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.

A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of seconday sources include.
Taken from Princeton University-Library Reference Desk

Click this link to find out more about primary and secondary sources.

Create a Research Process Flow Chart

You can create a research flow chart to outline your plan of action for investigating information on a particular topic. It tells you how and where to start. You should be finished completing the research process flow chart at the end of the Encounter the Task section.

The Research Process Flow Chart includes:

  • What you already know about the topic.
  • A list of specific questions you have.
  • What resources you will consult.
  • How you will assure that your investigation reflects all points of view.
  • How you will document the evidence you find.
  • How you will share your conclusions.

Onlne Research Guides and General Resources

A Research Guide-In-depth resources for key literary works or visit the ask & answer section to submit your research dilemmas.

Authorama: Fee books from a variety of different authors, this site allows users to works online or offline

Bartleby: This resource has great books and other helpful material.

Classic Book Library: A free online library containing treasured classics, this database of books is simple and straight forward.

eNotes: Access to thousands of study guides and practice quizzes, along with a vibrant community of students and teachers to help answer your questions.

FullBooks.com: Thousands of full text free books, this resource is great for fiction and poetry fans.

Gapminder: Shows the world’s most important data trends.

Google Books: Samples of recent best sellers or get complete textbooks for common classes.

LearnHub: Expert advice to students and users communitiesti advance educational aspirations.

Library of Congress: From the US government, this site gives students access to the wealth of material contained within the Library of Congress.

LibriVox: This site allows users to either read or listen to thousands of books that exist in the public domain

The Literature Network: Provides students with a list of master authors and their works.

Questia: With over 5,000 books freely and easily available online.

ReadPrint: A free online library for students..

RefDesk.com: The self-proclaimed fact checker of the Internet, this site is great for find quick trivia or references for papers.

Student Research Center-This site makes it easy for students to search by keyword or by topic to find the most useful search results.

Worthington Libraries: Research tools and links for students provided by a public library based in Ohio

  • inquiry
  • flow chart
Student Resources

Make Real World Connections

Owl Purdue: Invention: Starting the Writing Process


BCPS Databases

Books and Poems
Project Gutenburg   Destiny


The Best How-To and DIY Sites | PCMag.com

Letters, Memoirs, and Diaries
First World War Memoirs and Diaries

Historical Objects
The National Archives


Google Maps

Google Art Project

The Franklin Institute  

Music Recordings

National Jukebox

Paintings, Sculptures, Visual Art, and Photographs

National Gallery of Art

Innovative Lives


Safari Montage

Access SAFARI Montage videos and curriculum content from Home.

Virtual Tours

Research Process

Teaching Resources
Blogs Diaries and Memoirs Podcasts


You Tube

Onlne Research Guides and Resources

ESC Online Writing Center-Steps in Writing a Research Paper


Do Now:

1. Based on your personal experiences and knowledge, write the name of a topic or subject area that you are interested in researching further.
2. Use the topic or subject area you choose to respond to the following questions listed below. This will help you identify possible topics that you would like to discover.

  • Why is this important to me?
  • How is it relevant to my life?
  • Why is the topic or theme worth studying?
  • What is personally compelling about the inquiry?
  • Why does it matter?
3. Underline any keywords related to the topic or subject found in your answers.
4. Search all underlined keywords in three or more types of student resources to narrow down your topic choices.

Repeat steps 1-4 until you a satisfied with a topic choice that you would like to pursue further for additional background knowledge.

Do Next: Return to the Skills Menu to get help with other skills for Step 1: Encounter the Task

Skills You Tube Databases