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Basic Research Paper Information  

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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  • Niles North Catalog
    Search for books available at Niles North. If you'd also like to check the catalog at Niles West, please make sure you change the location to "Niles Township HS District 219".


Tips for Researching

  1. If you have a questions - ask them! Ms. Zbinden is always available to answer research questions.
  2. Using the databases we covered in class is important. They offer good information and will create citations for your sources.
  3. Use books. If you don't know how to find them ask Ms. Zbinden or one of the IRC staff members.
  4. If you use the Internet for information, make sure you review the tips for deciding if the information is valid - see the "Evaluating Sources" tab.

    Using Key Words


    Why Key Words Matter

    Despite all the advances in web and database searching, computers still don't do well with meaning.

    When you type a word into a search box, the computer looks only for the word you typed, not the concept you had in mind. To you, that word is an idea. To the computer, that word is a bunch of letters. 

    So, the burden is on you, the researcher, to choose the best keywords with which to search. The keywords you choose have a direct and measurable effect on the results you get back. Even a small change in your keywords can lead to a big change in results.

    Generating Key Words

    The first step in thinking of keywords is to define your topic. You can't research or write about a topic if you can't articulate what it is! Try writing your topic down as a sentence or a question.

    Think of keywords to describe each concept involved in your topic. Think of more than one, in case your first choice does not work. Focus on synonyms and related terms. What are other ways to state your topic? Is there a specific word that will describe an abstract concept in your topic?

    Sample topic: Does the death penalty unfairly target minorities?

    Concept 1: death penalty

    Alternative Terms: capital punishment, execution

    Concept 2: unfairly targeting minorities

    Alternative Terms: discrimination, racism, prejudice

            Alternative Terms: African-American, Hispanic, ethnic groups


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