A Suggested Short Guideline to Researching*
1. I have an “Information Need”:
a) What am I interested in knowing? (Topic)
b) What do I know about [my Topic]?
c) What don’t I know about [my Topic]?
d) What do I want to know about [my Topic]?
e) How much information will I need?
f) Is the amount of research time needed for this reasonable for this assignment?
g) Is there enough information on this topic out there?
h) Is my topic too broad or too narrow?
i) Do I need to think about this a little more before I move on to researching?
2) How to find information:
a) Where am I going to start looking?
b) What research questions are guiding my search?
c) Possible Keywords or search terms (to use in Library databases):
d) What possible resources could I use?
Examples (with purpose/usefulness description):
- Google/Google Scholar (to fish for information and develop research ideas)
- Personal interview (to lend perspective)
- Government Website (for facts)
- Organizational websites (for pro & con arguments)
- Journal article describing scientific study (for the "truth" as it is known today)
- Newspaper articles (news and/or opinion)
- yahoo answers/’comments section’ comment/review section comments (for opinions)
- Expert opinions (to borrow credibility)
- Library, for books, etc. (sources for paper assignment)
- Librarian (for targeted research help)
- Professor/University individual school Department (to get perspective, borrow credibility)
3) Evaluating and Incorporating Information:
a) How do I evaluate these resources? (For example: Is the information found relevant, accurate, reliable, published recently?)
b) Did I find enough information to “flesh out” the bones of my idea?
c) Did I gather enough resources? Were these useful (interesting and relevant to me)? Are there gaps or missing pieces in my understanding as a result of lack of information?
d) Am I going to give up my research? Do I need to reformulate my topic or search process? Do I need to reformulate my search terms or ideas?
e) Did I find new unexpected information? Did I include this new info into my investigation and found evidence?
f) Am I disappointed with what I found? Do I have more questions now than I did at the beginning? Do I have to change my research focus? Do I have to start over? [That’s perfectly okay and normal!]
g) Am I happy and satisfied with what I found?
4) Am I using Information correctly?
a) I am using sources to borrow credibility, did I give credit to these sources?
b) Did I paraphrase correctly and give credit to other people’s thoughts/opinions?
c) Can I be accused of plagiarism?
*This ‘process’ is roughly based on Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process and ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards.
Note: Also, feel free to add your own procedures or steps to this librarian-suggested research method.
1) American Library Association (ALA)/Association of the College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards.
Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education
2) Kuhlthau,Carol C. 2013. Rutgers University website. Retrieved from: