Research Help

Research Policy

"The Stamford High School Library provides a comprehensive collection of instructional and research materials, including print, non-print, and electronic resources. We encourage the use of relevant sources, with particular emphasis on the validity of electronic materials."

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Research Guides

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Evaluating Sources

Criteria for Evaluating Websites

Authority / Credibility – Author

  • What are the content provider’s credentials? Education? Experience? Expertise?

Accuracy – Freedom from mistake and error

  • Can facts, statistics or other information be verified through other sources?
  • Does it appear that there are errors on the page (e.g., spelling, grammar, facts)?

Date – The time at which information is published or produced

  • Does this project need current, up-to-date information? If so, when was this Webpage created?  When was it last updated?

Relevance – The relationship to the focused topic or question

  • Does the information directly support the thesis or help to answer the question?
  • Can it be eliminated or ignored because it simply does not help?

Scope & Purpose – The range of information on a given topic and the reason behind its creation

  • Does this source address the thesis in a comprehensive or peripheral way?
  • Is the material on my level – too easy, too hard?

Source – A primary reference work or point of origin

  • Did the author document his or her sources?
  • What kind of links or further reading did the author choose to post?

Reliability – The extent to which a source gives the same information as other sources

  • Does the source present a particular view or bias?
  • Is the information affiliated with an organization that has a particular political or social agenda?

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Works Cited / Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using others' ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

SHS Subscriptions:
Helpful Websites:

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Literacy Skills

Task Definition
  • Develop a thesis statement, formulate an essential question
Information Seeking Strategies
  • What are the best resources for this project, e.g., books, databases, websites?
  • Develop keywords, KWL charts, etc., during preliminary research
Location and Access
  • List resources to be examined
  • Access resources
  • Evaluate for validity and usefulness
Use of Information
  • Take notes
  • Outline
  • Cite sources
  • Putting your information together in an order that will end with proving your thesis or answering your essential question
  • Choosing an appropriate format to present your information
  • What did I learn?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What will I do next time to improve my end product?

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Research Steps

Research Steps -- How It Works
  1. Read about a broad topic with "peripheral vision," looking for subtopics and important terms. You may choose to check reference sources and video for context as you get familiar with a subject.
  2. Identify focused questions you are interested in investigating. (See Asking Good Questions.)
  3. Gather a working source list.
  4. Take notes on note cards or use NoodleTools.
  5. Look for patterns of information in your sources, your notes, your note cards.
  6. Develop clear and focused preliminary thesis. (See Developing a Thesis.)
  7. Gather information and evaluate the sources of information. (See Selecting and Evaluating Sources.) (See Distinguishing Among Scholarly, Popular, and Trade Publications.) Have you gathered a variety of quality materials? Have you gathered both primary and secondary sources? (Note: For Language Arts projects, your primary source may be the literary work you are analyzing.)
  8. Identify strong supporting points and rank them, making certain that the research and logical reasoning support them. Make sure that the evidence you collected is strong and that is directly supports your thesis.
  9. Develop an outline or storyboard or construct a visual organizing tool to organize your ideas and evidence. You may choose to use Inspiration or any of many Web-based (See MindMapping, Graphing, Timeling Tools tools.)
  10. Prepare a rough draft WITHOUT USING NOTES, making sure that your own voice as a writer is clear.
  11. Add research documentation to the draft. (See In-Text Documentation.) (If annotations are required, use this model as a guide.)
  12. Revise the draft.
  13. Have a classmate or friend peer review your work.
  14. Revise the draft.
  15. Edit the draft.
  16. Prepare, proofread, and submit the final copy.
  17. If your teacher requires it, upload a copy of your work to

Remember, you may ask for help anywhere along the way!

"Research Steps" is taken directly from Joyce Valenza and the the Springfield Township High School Virtual Library website.

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