Research GLOSSARY Research GLOSSARY Encounter the Research Task
Skill 3: Use search strategies, resources, and inquiry tools.

In Step 1: Encounter the Research Task, you were exposed to some search strategies, which you will use again in a different way now. In step 1, you were searching broad information to discover your focus, or research question. Now, you will need to narrow your search parameters in this step to find information specifically related to your research question. You will need to develop knowledge and skills about Inquiry Tools, Search Strategies, Databases, Print Resources, and Primary Research.

Skill-builders & Tools
Inquiry tools
You will need a method by which to keep track of the resources that you have viewed, and which of those resources are useful. Research logs and journals are the inquiry tools that you will use to do this. You should document every source that you consider taking information from. This will help you further narrow your search and reduce the likelihood that you will be exploring redundant materials that are not helpful. A research log should include the items below:
  • dates when you search
  • where you search (places and the search tools you use)
  • search terms and strategies you use
  • types of materials you find
  • ideas to use during the next research session
  • other notes that will help your research time be more productive.
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  • dates when you search
  • where you search (places and the search tools you use)
  • search terms and strategies you use
  • types of materials you find
  • ideas to use during the next research session
  • other notes that will help your research time be more productive.

See the student resources section for sample research logs.

Vocabulary
  • Inquiry – The act of asking for, or seeking information.
Student Resources

Sample Research Logs:

  • University of Illinois logs in spreadsheet and document format.
  • University of Toronto has compiled links to several different useful logs.
Teaching Resources
  • Article from the North Dakota Teaching and Technical institute on teaching inquity.
DO NOW:After reviewing the materials above, select a research log from the examples provided, or create your own. It would be beneficial for you to have the log in spreadsheet format for easy manipulation. Make sure it includes all of the items suggested above. You will use this log for the remainder of your research.

Search Strategies
There are a variety of different methods that you can use to locate information for your research. Several of these methods suggested below.

Search Engines
One of the most common methods for finding information on the internet is through the use of a search engine. Links to popular search engines can be found in the student resources section. When using a search engine, you will get results from websites which may or may not be credible. It is important to evaluate the reliability of a website before citing it and using it in your research. See skill "D" on evaluating resources to determine creditability.

computer

Boolean Operators
When conducting a search using a search engine or a database, Boolean operators (AND, NOT, OR, etc) can be used to narrow the results of the search. In your research, you must make effective use of these characters to find the material that you are seeking.

  • Boolean Search: A type of search allowing users to combine keywords with operators such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results. For example, a Boolean search could be "hotel" AND "New York". This would limit the search results to only those documents containing the two keywords.

Most search engines have a help section which explains how to use Boolean Operators in a search. See the student resources section for links. Rather than using Boolean Operators, many search engines have an advanced search option which you can use to narrow your search.

The student resources section has links to additional information on how to enhance your internet searching parameters which go beyond the information presented above.

Vocabulary
  • Boolean Search: A type of search allowing users to combine keywords with operators such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results. For example, a Boolean search could be "hotel" AND "New York". This would limit the search results to only those documents containing the two keywords.
  • Search Engine - a program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.
Student Resources
Popular search engines: Boolean Operator Support: Tips for Internet Searching:
  • Four NETS for Better Searching ... Four techniques for improving your searching from Bernie Dodge
  • Information Fluency Tips ... Tips for locating resources on the web, evaluating web sites, and integrating digital content into projects from Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy's "21st Century Information Literacy Project Portal."
Teaching Resources
  • Readwritethink.org - Lesson plans on teaching internet based research.
DO NOW: After reviewing the materials above, create a list of five searches using Boolean operators. Be sure to use more advanced Boolean language other than “AND, OR, and NOT”.

Databases

BCPS has a paid subscription to many databases which you can use to find reliable primary and secondary sources for your research. Do a keyword search using boolean operators to find information in the databases below.

NOTE: Logins are required for home access to BCPS Databases. See your Library Media Specialist for the passwords handout.

You may type your search terms direclty into the widgets below, and a new window will open to display the search results. Additional database links are located in the student resources section.

SIRS Discoverer

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Vocabulary
  • Database - a usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer).
Student Resources
Brain Pop Culturegrams
Destiny EBSCO Ebsco
worldbook  
Teacher Resources
 
DO NOW: Make a list of databases which you could use to locate information which might be relevant to your research question. You may use the databases above as well as any other BCPS-licensed databases that include relevant information.

Print Resources
A print resource is any resource which is printed on paper. Common examples include books, newspapers, reference materials such as encyclopedias, etc. Consult your school or local librarian for assistance with locating print resources. The college of San Mateo has a thorough description of different varieties of print resources. Print resources are generally grouped into two categories: primary and secondary sources.

Primary 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.

Some types of primary sources include:

  • ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records 
  • CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art 
  • RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII 
  • The Constitution of Canada - Canadian History 
  • A journal article reporting NEW research or findings 
  • Weavings and pottery - Native American history 
  • Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece

Secondary Sources - 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 secondary sources include:

  • PUBLICATIONS: Textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias 

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings 
  • A history textbook 
  • A book about the effects of WWI 

Taken from: http://www.princeton.edu/~refdesk/primary2.html

BCPS has access to an extensive array of print resources both in your school, and in other schools around the county. You can use the BCPS destiny database to locate print resources within the county. See the student resources section for links.

Vocabulary
  • Primary 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.
  • Secondary Sources - 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.
Student Resources
The BCPS Destiny Database:
  • Do a keyword search in your school library's DESTINY catalog to find nonfiction, reference books and eBooks about your topic.
  • Do a keyword search in the BCPL Catalog to locate additional resources.
    • See BCPL Get Help for help with searching the catalog or using other BCPL resources.

  • Chat online with a librarian at Ask Us Now!
    Be sure to have your research questions handy.
Teacher Resources
DO NOW: After reviewing the materials above, complete the activity on primary vs. secondary sources via the link below. Link: Primary vs. Secondary Sources.

Primary Research
Do not confuse primary research with primary sources. Primary research is any type of research that you go out and collect yourself. Examples include surveys, interviews, observations, and ethnographic research. See the student resources section for descriptions of different types of primary research.

Interviewing
Just as a wide variety of media (books, magazines, videos, the Internet) are potential sources for information on any given topic, so too are a wide variety of human beings. Interviewing is one of the more common methods of conducting primary research; it can provide a source of helpful information and bring a topic to life for the researcher. Interviews should be conducted with someone who is knowledgeable about your topic. Below is a suggested guide for planning and conducting an interview.

Planning the Interview

  1. Brainstorm a list of potential places where you might find a person to interview about your topic.
  2. Brainstorm a list of potential people whom you might be able to interview about your topic.
  3. Of all the places and people listed above, which ONE would you most likely be able to contact and why?
  4. What plan could you develop in order to make this potential interview a reality? In other words, what efforts could you make in order to make it happen? List the possible steps.
  5. List at least FIVE good questions (ones that would result in detailed responses) that you could ask an interviewee about your topic. Remember to look back at the questions that are guiding your research.

Conducting the Interview

  1. Contact the person you would like to interview and set up a time and place for the interview. If the interviewee is a stranger, conduct the interview by phone or be sure to take a parent along with you.
  2. Tape record (with written permission from the interviewee) or take notes during the interview.

See the student resources section for additional information on planning and conducting interviews, as well as suggestions for your personal presentation and conduct.

Vocabulary
  • Primary Research - is any type of research that you go out and collect yourself. Examples include surveys, interviews, observations, and ethnographic research. A good researcher knows how to use both primary and secondary sources in her writing and to integrate them in a cohesive fashion.
Student Resources
Resources for conducting & planning interviews:
Teacher Resources
DO NOW:
What would you like to do next?
Search & Gather