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Middle School Library: The Research Process

The Research Process

Remember, when you are conducting research, the two most important questions to ask are:

WHAT'S MY QUESTION?  HOW MUCH DO I KNOW?

Depending on your question and how much you know about your topic will determine which resource is the best one for you to use.

If you know 0-25% of your topic, choose a REFERENCE source.

If you know 25-50% of your topic, choose a BOOK.

If you know 50-75% of your topic, choose a DATABASE from the approved list on this page.

If you know 75-100% of your topic, choose a SEARCH ENGINE like GOOGLE on the INTERNET. Use the SEARCH terms and phrases from your DATABASE searches in your GOOGLE search. Use what you know about your topic already to weed out useless or wrong information. But first, check the approved websites on the specific research project page.

0-25% - Reference

REFERENCE resource could be a print or online encyclopedia, atlas, dictionary or thesaurus.  It can also be a database. Here you will learn the basics of your topic, fast facts and vocabulary words that you can use later as search terms. 

The REFERENCE section is located on the opposite side of Ms. Molina's desk (as well as some resources next to her desk).

50-75% - Database

DATABASES are organized, searchable sources of information, often available only with a subscription. Databases provide access to a wealth of useful research materials from academic journals, newspapers, magazines, and reference materials such as encyclopedias and dictionaries. Even though you access them through the INTERNET, DATABASES have more specific information than what you will find just GOOGLING your topic. Here you will find more current information on your topic using the vocabulary words you learned from your REFERENCE and BOOK sources as your SEARCH terms.

25-50% - Book

BOOK could be a print book, an e-book, a digital textbook, or an audio book. A BOOK in any form is usually more specific than a REFERENCE source. Here you will add details to the basic information you have already learned and begin to connect your basic facts together.

75-100% - Approved Websites/Approved Google Search

At this point in your research, you will use approved websites for your specific project and, with guidance from Ms. Molina, you might also do some Google searches, using the keywords and phrases you learned in your prior research.