4 Essential Research Strategy Steps

1. Determine what information is needed for my research

The best way to do so is to ask focused questions.


"What major events/issues influenced lives of people in this country during this specific period?"

2. Determine what resources will contain the information needed

Use the questions below as a guide.

a) What types of materials will have reliable/accurate information about my topic?

b) Where/how can I find these resources?

3. Search relevant resources effectively and efficiently

Use the following questions and tips:

a) What search terms should I use?

TIP #1: Avoid using terms that are either too broad or too narrow.

TIP #2: Avoid using a modern term while searching historical sources.
For example, searching "African-American" in journals published during
World War I will produce only a few results (if any).

TIP #3: The fastest way to determine appropriate search terms is to look up your topic
in a reference publication such as encyclopedias or subject dictionaries.
The library has both online and printed version of scholarly reference materials.

b) What research tools will be most effective?

Encyclopedia and Dictionaries are a great place to begin your research.

HINT #1: Encyclopedia Britannica Online compares countries, includes timelines, and contains videos!

HINT #2: See descriptions of relevant resources suggested by your librarians for this course.

c) What resources are available to me?

HINT: Check the Rice-Aron Library Site:


4. Evaluate gathered information

Use the following criteria: reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view
or bias of the resources.*

Consider the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and
determine the impact of context on interpreting the information.*

(*Based on ACRL Information Literacy Standard Three outcomes definitions)

Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM