Research skills for your epq
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Research skills for your EPQ. Where to begin. Choosing a subject. Choose a broad subject area and carry out some basic research to find out how much material is available. Refine your research to develop a research question. If you really haven’t a clue what to do:

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Choosing a subject
Choosing a subject

  • Choose a broad subject area and carry out some basic research to find out how much material is available.

  • Refine your research to develop a research question.

  • If you really haven’t a clue what to do:

    ask your supervisor for advice and read all the academic journals for inspiration.

Starting the search task for real
Starting the search task for real

  • Finding and selecting the best resources are the key to any project

  • Use a variety of different resources

  • This will show the reader that you have researched fully and increase the chances of using credible resources

Where do you look first
Where do you look first?

  • Google

  • NO

  • Wikipedia

  • NO

  • Ask your mate

  • NO

  • The Library


Why the library
Why the Library

  • It’s the gateway to all knowledge

  • Books

  • Academic journals

  • Electronic resources

  • ….and more

Print resources
Print Resources

  • Books

  • Generally reliable

  • Authors credentials can be checked

  • Bibliography provides list of other useful resources

  • Currency, check the publication date. Remember that the publication process can take a long time

Book resources
Book Resources

  • Reviews and Abstracts

  • Both can be used to decide whether an item is likely to be of use.

  • A review is another’s opinion of the text

  • An abstract is a summary of the contents.

Search tip
Search Tip

  • Often an abstract will provide all the information you need about the contents of a book, and provide another item for your bibliography

Search tip1
Search tip

  • Use the bibliography to find the titles of other resources that might be of use

Accessing print resources
Accessing Print Resources

  • You can borrow books from the following

  • School library

  • British library – via school library

  • Public libraries

  • The Leeds Library – via school library

  • Use as reference only

  • University Libraries


  • Magazines written for an academic audience

  • Up to date

  • Peer reviewed

World wide web
World Wide Web

  • There are billons of pages of information on the Internet

  • Books

  • Newspapers

  • Audio video

  • Websites

Search tip2
Search Tip

  • To find the right resources you need to select the right tools. Using the best search tool can save a lot of time and retrieve higher quality more relevant resources

Search tools
Search Tools

  • Search engines

  • Meta search engines

  • Subject portals

  • Subject directories

Free internet
Free Internet

  • Most of us use search engines and meta search engines to access the free internet

  • Quick and easy to use

  • Search engines


  • Meta search engines





Deep internet
Deep Internet

  • Invisible web

  • Largest and most important part of the web

  • Not accessible using the usual search tools

  • Online books, subject directories and portals and databases requiring a log-on.

Search process
Search Process

  • Focus

  • Strategise

  • Refine

  • Evaluate

Search tip3
Search tip

  • A good online search starts off-line. Read about your subject. Think about what you already know and what you need to know

  • Think about keywords and phrases and where best to search

  • Adjust your search by widening or narrowing the range. Improve it by adding new words that you come across

  • Decide how credible the document is

Search and meta search engines
Search and Meta Search Engines

  • How they work and why is it important

  • Search engines are best when you want to carry out a comprehensive search.

  • Meta search engines are less precise and are good if you want something less specific or obscure

  • Meta search engines return results in varying ways which make searching easier

Search strategy
Search Strategy

  • Dream senario: Getting the best results and in the first few pages

  • Beware of sponsored links

Search tip4
Search tip

  • There is always more than one way to describe what you’re looking for

  • Brainstorm synonyms

  • Nouns are better than verbs as verbs tend to be vague

  • Put the most important words first

  • Incorrect spellings can be a problem – use the spelling help if there is one

  • Each search tool uses a different syntax or specific language. Need to know this to use the tool properly.

Search tips
Search Tips

  • Boolean operators: AND OR and NOT

  • Use “to treat words as a phrase”

  • ~ Use a tilde to search for synonyms

  • Search in lower case unless you are searching for names

Advance search
Advance Search

  • Most search engines have an advance search screen. This allows for a more precise search by using parameters to limit the results.

  • Restrict by date

  • Specify which field keywords are to be found

Mine your results
Mine your Results

  • Use new words or phrases that occur to make your search more specific

  • Use more than one keyword or phrase

Search tips1
Search Tips

  • Use the end of the web address to assess what type of site the info comes from

  • .com or

  • .edu or .ac or .sch

  • .gov or

  • .org

  • %~

Subject directories and portals
Subject Directories and Portals

  • Contents arranged in subject areas, subject catalogues

  • Selected, annotated and maintained by specialists

  • Use directories and portals if you are searching a general topic or have a broad keyword or phrase, good initial search tool

  • Quick access to best sites but fewer results and issues with age of info


  • Organised, searchable collection of materials

  • Filtered and evaluated by publishers, authors, editors

  • Invisible to robots, spiders and crawlers

Search tip5
Search tip

  • Look at librarians Internet index


  • Invisible web directory



  • Search for subject portals or gateways in your subject area

  • Use “databases” in your search query


  • An OPAC is an Online Public Access Catalogue

  • Access from home

  • School, British Library, University libraries and local library catalogues

  • Search by Author, title, keyword or subject

Search tip6
Search tip

  • Use the subject headings on a catalogue entry to find more resources

Subscription databases
Subscription Databases

  • Access to full text scholarly journals, reference and non-fiction books

  • School subscribes to Issues Online


  • Username HGS Password 52574

  • Mrs Whitelaw has access to many others, see her for details

Ask an expert
Ask an Expert

  • Use an “ask the expert site”

  • Contact the author or editor via the website link


  • Credible : check credentials of site and authors, print vs online, web addresses

  • Accurate : compare sources

  • Reliable : what is the aim of the site, does it have bias, check web addresses

  • Relevant : Quality not quantity. Does it answer the question. Check the date of publication. Does it match the above criteria?

Academic fraud
Academic Fraud

  • What is it?

  • Stealing others work or ideas

  • Copying from a friend

  • Buying from the Internet

  • Help from others

  • Cut and paste without attribution

I didn t mean to do it
I didn’t mean to do it

  • The information came from a book but I can’t remember which one.

  • Can’t express it any better than the website has but I changed a few words.

  • My Mum wrote the summary because I was running short of time.

  • I reused an essay from last year – well it was my own work.

How to avoid it
How to avoid it

  • Credit facts and ideas

  • Be organised by keeping a record of all the resources you use.

  • Ensure all citations are in “quotation marks”

  • Paraphrase

  • Summerise

  • Clearly identify source - make a bibliography