“Why do I love doing research? I feel like a detective – lots of snooping, poking, and prying. Research is all about coming up with good questions and finding ways to discover the answers.” – Patsi Trollinger
Choose a Topic.
If you need to write about a person, choose someone you admire. Or someone you despise. If you need to write about an animal or a place, choose one that makes you happy – or scares you! Research is fun if the topic touches your emotions.
Be prepared to take notes. You can use pencil and paper or an electronic tablet. Either way, it’s important to label and organize the information so you can find and use it later.
Search for Facts.
Your research should consider sources beyond the internet, but an online search can be a good place to start. A website like Wikipedia can provide a quick introduction to key dates and facts. Take notes and then begin digging deeper. Check the catalog of a nearby library and ask for help from a research librarian.
Be a Detective.
As your research expands, you may discover “facts” that contradict each other. Use detective skills to decide what is true. Think about which sources are likely to be reliable and credible. Look for dates connected to your source material. If your topic is connected to science, new sources may be ideal. For topics related to history, old sources may be valuable. Seek advice from expert sources such as a museum or university website, a professor, or a person whose work is relevant to your topic.
Final Steps: Think, Feel, and Decide.
If you conducted research in order to write a paper, your next challenge will require lots of thinking about everything you have discovered and learned. Which facts seemed especially important? Did you sense a theme or big idea that tied facts together? How did you feel about the subject? Which do you want to tell other people about this topic?