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US - 9 - World History - Renaissance Lifetime Achievement Award 2016: Research Strategies

1. Understand Your Assignment

  • Know what your are being asked to do
  • Highlight key words and due dates on your assignment
  • Be able to restate the assignment in your own words
  • Always have your assignment next to you when you are working
  • Take a look at background information found in the following sources:
    • general encyclopedias, reference books
    • textbooks
    • general dictionaries
    • Background info = Common Knowledge
  • Once you have background knowlege, develop research questions:
    • Write down what you already know or don't know about your topic
    • Using that information, develop questions you would like to answer when doing your research
    • Use probing questions such as why? how? what if? should? 
    • Avoid questions that can be answered with YES or NO

2. Locate Useful Information

  • Use the sources provided in this Research Guide.
  • The search terms or keywords you use to search are what determine the results you get.
  • Generate keyword search terms by identifying the main ideas or concepts within the topic sentence
  • Keep a list of search terms. (searching "history of clocks" will not help--be specific: "timepieces in history" or "measuring time" or "horology"
  • Use your assignment handout for other terms. 
  • Expand your search terms by brainstorming related terms or synonyms that describe your main ideas:
    • Money: currency, banking, usury, coinage, cowrie, barter
    • Globalization; development, growth, proliferation
    • History; ancient meaning, orgination
    • Maps: cartography, topography 

3. Narrowing the Search Results:

  • Use the skim and scan technique within the source—read captions, bold headings, etc.
  • Use CMD+F to locate your keyword within a source--if it is a PDF file, you will need to download the file first
  • Be aware of he author's point of view, the type of source, and the age of the source
  • Look for sources that support both sides of an argument to get a clear picture of your issue.

4. Taking Notes

  • A set of good notes will make the writing process much, much easier
  • Always begin by keeping the bibliographic information for all the sources you use
  • Only record information that relates to your topic. Use bullet point summaries of the information you need
  • NEVER copy & paste text from an online source

Sample Notes: OR create citation

  • take notes here in bullet points

Sample Notes

Andrade, Tonio. "Beyond Guns, Germs, And Steel: European Expansion And Maritime Asia, 1400-1750." Journal of   Early Modern History, Vol. 14, no. 1/2, 2010, pp. 165-186.  Academic Search Complete,,uid

  • Significant developments in the New World versus the Old (find book in the library Guns, Germs, and Steel)
  • Trade significantly expanded between Europe and Asia between 1492 and 1650= Age of Exploration and resulted in "Age of Commerce" 

Step 5: Final Product

  • Did you check your work against the assignment outline?
  • Did you answer the question you were asked?
  • Is each point you have made supported by facts?
  • Does your works cited accurately reflect the resources you used?

Off the Grid: Searching Google

Since this Research Guide offers quality resources,  use Google for low stake information. Ex. What are Yew Trees? Where is Addis Ababa located? Spelling of Machu Picchu.

If, at some point during your research, you decide to look for sources not included on the research guide:  

  • Limiting your search to just OR can help filter out information you don't want to you use. Google also offers an "advanced search". Try Google Scholar
  •  A USA Today article does not carry the same weight as a New York Times article; choose your sources carefully.
  • Can you answer the following questions? 
    • Who are the authors/publishers, and why do you believe they are reliable?
    • What is the relevance of this information to my topic?
    • When was this information published?  Is there more current information available?
    • Where does this source gets its information, does it have a bibliography of sources?
    • Why does this source exist?  What is the point of view I should be aware of?

These are a few of the questions we use when selecting a resource for this guide, and  you are expected to adhere to these same high standards.

Keep in mind that your teacher can quickly form an opinion about your work based on the sources you used.