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Research Process: Research Process Home

Guide to the Research process that includes databases, search engines, and other tools

Keywords and subtopics

Use these handouts or research plan to find subtopics and keywords. Also check out Indiana University for more handouts and tips.

Evaluating web sources

Evaluating Print Sources

Databases vs. Internet

Web Page Evaluation Checklist

Steps for the Research Process


Get organized: Create a folder on your computer. Save any research database articles you find in the folder.


1. Develop a topic: Choose a topic. Do some "pre-searching" in the library or a database.For example, read a short article from an encyclopedia or other reference source. Is your topic too broad? Too narrow? As you read, jot down important people, events, and ideas which may be good subtopics for your research. Watch the Choose a Topic video for help. 


2. Develop a research plan: Use the 5 Ws and an H: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How to brainstorm subtopics. Divide the topic up into three or more subtopics using the Subtopics Web handout. Use your encyclopedia article to add more specific subtopics to your research plan. Watch Create a Research plan to understand subtopics.


Example of asking questions to develop a topic

General subjects














Emancipation Proclamation

Social Impact












  • "What was Texas' role in the military aspects of the Civil War?"
  • "How did abolitionists affect politics in the North?"
  • "How the end of slavery changed the Southern economy."



3. Locate sources of information in a variety of formats: Use general terms from your subtopics web as keywords to search in our research databases, and in the online library catalog to locate books in the library. Build and print a list of books to look for:


  • BOOKS (Print sources): Use the Dewey Decimal system to locate books on the shelf in the library. Watch Locate Sources of Information to understand the difference between print and web sources.
  • E-books can open from within the library catalog or go to that ebook database to open.
  • DATABASES: Use the user names and passwords bookmark (pick up in the library) to locate information in our MHS research databases  See links to databases on this guide. Most of our databases have a "cite" feature,  or will export to EasyBib.
  • WEB SOURCES: Watch the short Research and the Internet Powerpoint presentation from Purdue University's OWL English with your class for ideas on effective web searches, including Advanced Searches, searching by "domains," and Boolean searches (see handout in Useful Information box). Watch the short Web Sources video to understand the types of web sources.



4. Evaluate sources: Check the handouts on Evaluating print sourcesComparing databases to web sitesand Web Evaluation Guide to evaluate the information sources you find.


Use the A,A,B,Cs (Accuracy, Authority, Bias, Currency) to evaluate web sources. Or run your sources by RADCAB for a quick evaluation, or EasyBib (type the URL in the web site evaluation form -- too many empty boxes, not a good web site!)


5. Read your sources carefully. Think about what you read (pencils down!), and select important information. Does it fit your research plan?

6. Cite your sources using EasyBib.

7. Take notes as your teacher directs or use EasyBib's virtual note cards to organize your notes.

8. Organize your notes by subtopics Turn your notes into an outline using EasyBib before writing a rough draft.

9. EasyBib will even format your paper using Google docs.



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