Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Central High School Library Home Page: Student Resources for Researching, Reading, and Writing

Researching

How to Use Search Terms to Find Information

There are many strategies that you may employ when looking for information in a database. When starting your search, it is important to plan out your search strategy in advance, and follow these 4 important steps to insure that you receive the results that you are looking for.

1. Define your topic (write a few sentences that explain what you are looking for)
2. Choose keywords (select keywords from your sentences)
3. Group like keywords together
4. Decide how groups of keywords are related.

Explore the differences between searching and researching. 

"Search is seeking the answer; research is seeking the question."

JSTOR

Watch the video above to learn research strategies for expanding, limiting, and determining key words in JSTOR  to complete the annotated bibliography assignment. 

Click on "Start Your Research" for  search tips and informational videos. 

Google Scholar

 

Google Scholar Pros Google Scholar Cons 
  • Fast and easy to use, so you may find it easier to get started
  • Searches a wide range of scholarly outputs
  • Useful for finding grey literature such as conference proceedings and reports
  • Automatically includes scholarly works from Google Books
  • Supports searching in any language
  • Can do forward citation tracking (Forward citation tracking: finding works that cite an original work )
  • Can set up alerts for searches 
  • Locates obscure references that may be difficult to find in conventional databases.
  • Coverage is incomplete and variable across disciplines
  • Includes results you won't have access to
  • Not everything in Google Scholar is scholarly – results can include PowerPoint presentations and unscholarly documents as well as articles from predatory journals (Predatory journal: a scam journal that charges a fee for the publication of articles without providing legitimate publication services)
  • Uses an algorithm to make a calculated guess at what is scholarly, and it is not known how it determines what to include
  • Cannot do backward citation tracking (Backward citation tracking: finding the works cited by an original work)
  • Advanced searching is limited 
  • Citations data are unreliable

from the University of Westminster

How well do you understand plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a type of cheating in which someone adopts another person's ideas, words, design, art, music, etc., as his or her own without acknowledging the source, or, when necessary, obtaining permission from the author. For example, copying and pasting material from a web site into your own document without proper citation is considered plagiarism. Take the quiz below to see how well you understand plagiarism. 

Three Ways to Incorporate Research into Your Writing: Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Quoting

Click above to learn about the three ways to incorporate research into your writing from Purdue OWL.

 

Summarizing

A summary is ...

From Purdue Owl

  •  a short version of a longer original source
  • a way to present a large amount of information in a short and concise text that includes only the most important ideas of the original text.

Note that a summary requires an in-text citation. 

 

5 Steps to Writing a Summary

  1. Read the text until you understand it. Highlight main ideas and take notes.
  2. Identify the author’s most important points.
  3. Write your summary without looking at the original text.
  4. Check your summary against the original.
  5. Add connective words for clarity and coherence.

 

Some examples to compare 

Taken from Purdue OWL

Note that the examples in this section use MLA style for in-text citation.

The original passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed., 1976, pp. 46-47.

An acceptable summary:

Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

 

Summarizing

In many situations, you will not have to provide the level of detail that the original writer did. At such times, you should summarize, or remove minor details. Here’s an example:

Example: Overall, the first two quarters of 2008 have been profitable to the company. Nineteen of twenty departments report cutting costs at least twenty percent, and sales from fifteen departments have risen five percent, or about $5 million. Despite these positive developments, most department heads believe that they will not be able to maintain these levels for the remainder of the year.

Revision: The company has driven profits from January to June of 2008, but the rest of the year is not expected to be as good.

Unlike paraphrasing, the basic order of the original text is maintained. However, some words have been changed to close synonyms. When summarizing, avoid cutting too much important information.

Paraphrasing

A paraphrase is...

  • your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
  • one legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
  • a more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea. 

Note that paraphrases require an in-text citation

 

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

  1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
  2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
  3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
  4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
  5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.
  6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

Some examples to compare 

Taken from Purdue OWL

Note that the examples in this section use MLA style for in-text citation.

The original passage:

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed., 1976, pp. 46-47.

A legitimate paraphrase:

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).

An acceptable summary:

Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).

A plagiarized version:

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

A note about plagiarism: This example has been classed as plagiarism, in part, because of its failure to deploy any citation. Plagiarism is a serious offense in the academic world. However, we acknowledge that plagiarism is a difficult term to define; that its definition may be contextually sensitive; and that not all instances of plagiarism are created equal—that is, there are varying “degrees of egregiousness” for different cases of plagiarism.

Quoting

A quotation is  . . .

  • text that uses a narrow segment of the source.
  • text that matches the source document word for word and is placed in "quotation marks" 

All quotations must be attributed to the original author/contain an in-text citation. 

Quoting Others (purdue OWL) 

Using the words of others can be tricky business. You typically only want to use a direct quotation in the following situations: if you’re using that statement as a piece of evidence for your own argument, if you’re establishing another’s position, or if another person has said something better and more clearly than you can.

The main problem with using quotations happens when writers assume that the meaning of the quotation is obvious. Writers who make this mistake believe that their job is done when they’ve chosen a quotation and inserted it into their text. Quotations need to be taken from their original context and integrated fully into their new textual surroundings. Every quotation needs to have your own words appear in the same sentence. Here are some easy to use templates* for doing this type of introduction:


TEMPLATES FOR INTRODUCING QUOTATIONS

X states, “__________.”

As the world-famous scholar X explains it, “________.”

As claimed by X, “______.”

In her article _______, X suggests that “_________.”

In X’s perspective, “___________.”

X concurs when she notes, “_______.”

You may have noticed that when the word “that” is used, the comma frequently becomes unnecessary. This is because the word “that” integrates the quotation with the main clause of your sentence (instead of creating an independent and dependent clause).

 

Now that you’ve successfully used the quotation in your sentence, it’s time to explain what that quotations means—either in a general sense or in the context of your argument. Here are some templates for explaining quotations:


TEMPLATES FOR EXPLAINING QUOTATIONS


In other words, X asserts __________.

In arguing this claim, X argues that __________.

X is insisting that _________.

What X really means is that ____________.

The basis of X’s argument is that ___________.

 

*These templates are derived from Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein's "They Say/I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing , second edition

Integrating Research into Your Writing

NoodleTools Note Cards

Outlining

Use the video "Outlines" to help you think about hierarchial organization. Be sure to follow your teacher's guidelines for writing an outline. 

Use the video "Drawing Relationships" to help you organize ideas. 

Introductions

from the University of North Carolina Writing Center

MLA Grammar and Usage Quizzes

 

 

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).