Reference and research tools
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Reference and Research Tools. How to research properly and well!. Get Ready To Research!. Throughout this school year we will be completing multiple research projects. You will need to know proper methods of research, as well as proper citation. Fill in your notes as we go along.

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Reference and research tools

Reference and Research Tools

How to research properly and well!


Get ready to research

Get Ready To Research!

  • Throughout this school year we will be completing multiple research projects. You will need to know proper methods of research, as well as proper citation.

  • Fill in your notes as we go along.


What words mean and how to use them

What words mean and how to use them!

  • Dictionary


Why use a dictionary

Why use a dictionary?

  • A dictionary tells what words mean.

  • Each word, along with its meaning, is known as an entry.

  • A dictionary tells a word’s part of speech.

  • Dictionaries tell us how to pronounce, or say, words correctly.

  • You use a dictionary to define a word. The meaning of a word is called its definition.

  • Dictionaries help us to use words wisely.


For example

For example…

  • What does the word moat mean?


Example dictionary entry

Example dictionary entry…

  • Moat (mot) noun ; plural moats- A deep wide ditch that was dug around a castle in olden times to protect it from enemies. It was often, though not always, filled with water.


Use the word

Use the word…

  • Shrek had to cross a fire filled moat to save Princess Fiona.


Guide words

Guide Words…

  • Guide words help you locate words fast in a dictionary.

  • Guide words are at the top of the page in a dictionary.

  • They tell the first and last word on that page.

  • If you are given a word, you can tell if it is on a certain page by looking at the page’s guide words.


Try it

Try it…

  • Spoil/Spot

  • Are the following words on this page in the dictionary?

  • 1. Sponge

  • 2. Splinter

  • 3. Spoon

  • 4. Spun

  • 5. Sport


Find a better way to say it

Find a better way to say it!

  • Thesaurus


Why use it

Why use it?

  • A thesaurus helps you avoid repetition in your writing and helps you find a word for an idea you have in mind. You can use it to increase your vocabulary as the typical thesaurus has synonyms for more than 100,000 words.

  • Choose synonyms carefully. You will soon recognize that few words are exactly interchangeable. Use the thesaurus in conjunction with a good dictionary whenever selecting a word or phrase unfamiliar to you.


On the computer

On the computer…

  •  In Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, and Microsoft Office Outlook, you can look up a word quickly if you right-click anywhere in the document, presentation, open message, or previewed message in the Reading Pane, and then click Synonym on the shortcut menu.


From a print source

From a print source..

  • There are two main kinds of thesaurus: a Roget-type with a categorization system and an A-to-Z thesaurus. Become familiar with the categorization scheme if you have a Roget-type thesaurus. In an A-to-Z thesaurus, you may also benefit from definitions at each entry. Look up a word in a Roget-type thesaurus in the index. The index will likely have the meanings listed under each word. Don't limit your search to one category; also look at the categories just before and after the one you first look up. Examine the offerings in all parts of speech in the category of interest. You might find something you can use by broadening your search.


Web site research

Web site research

  • Internet


What to use

What to use

  • Internet research is used by many to gather information on and study a particular subject using resources published on the Internet. The websites and sources you use for your Internet research should ideally be written by professionals, experts, organizations, businesses, and other entities that are knowledgeable about that specific topic. Because the Internet is a public platform accessible to all, the information you can sometimes find may not be entirely factual, but instead be formed by opinions and speculation; making the information you gather for your research void and inaccurate. To find information that is wholly factual and accurate on the topic you are researching, you must know how to determine the credibility of the sources providing the information. Continue reading this article to learn how you can perform efficient Internet research that allows you to gather meaningful and accurate results.


Step one

Step One

  • Use the appropriate research tools. The tools you use to perform Internet research may vary depending on your topic or assignment.

    • Use major search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo to perform your research; as these tools will provide you with access to nearly all published websites made available to the public. These search engines will also display and rank websites for you according to topic relevancy based on the keywords you entered into the search engine.

    • Use search directories or tools provided to you by your employer, college, or university if you are performing Internet research for school or work. Some employers and schools may provide you with websites they prefer or recommend, or give you access to credible, private databases or tools inaccessible to the public.


Step two

Step Two

  • Use keywords relevant to the topic you are researching. To find credible and relevant information about your topic on the Internet, you must use a combination of keywords related to your research.

    • Use specific keyword phrases to locate the most relevant information. For example, if you are looking for information on how to perform an oil change on a 2006 Honda Accord, enter specific keywords such as "oil change instructions 2006 Honda Accord" instead of a basic phrase such as "perform an oil change," which may bring back thousands of results for websites that feature oil changes on motorcycles, buses, boats, and all other automobiles.

    • Use alternate words or keyword phrases to locate additional research sources. For example, if you are performing research on foreign movies, use the words "films" or "shows" in place of movies to find additional sources that may provide you with more information on your research topic.


Step three

Step Three

  • Review several pages of search results for valid information. In most cases, search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo will rank search results based on specific algorithms, such as website popularity.

    • Look beyond the first page of search results to find information for your research. In some cases, you may be able to find websites with helpful information beyond the first 5 pages of search results.


Step four

Step four

  • Determine that the website is a credible and reliable source. If you are gathering facts for your research, you will want to verify that the information is being provided by professionals or certified experts in that particular field or subject.

    • Read the "About Us" section of a website to learn more about the authors or organization publishing the information.

    • Review the extension of the website in the address bar to determine the source. If the website ends in ".edu," ".gov," or ".org," the information on the website is overseen by a school, government entity, or non-profit organization, respectively, and in most cases, is accurate.


Step five

Step Five

  • Use current information for your Internet research. Some information is time-sensitive, and the sources you may find and use may be outdated or inaccurate. For example, if you are performing research on popular computer software, use information from an article published within the last few weeks or months, instead of an article published from several years ago.


Step six

Step Six

  • Review each website for grammatical errors and broken links. If the website is credible and reliable, grammar and spelling should be accurate and all links should take you to the appropriate landing page. Websites with numerous grammatical errors and broken links may be copying their information from another source or may not be legitimate.


Step seven

Step seven

  • Cite or list all the Internet sources used in your research. This process is helpful if you need to revisit a website to include more information in your research, or if you need to provide your audience or employer with a list of sources used to compile your information.

    • Copy or document the exact website link you used to access and provide information for your Internet research.


Website citation

Website citation

  • Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including Online Databases)

  • Here are some common features you should try and find before citing electronic sources in MLA style. Not every Web page will provide all of the following information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible both for your citations and for your research notes:

  • Author and/or editor names (if available)

  • Article name in quotation marks (if applicable)

  • Title of the Website, project, or book in italics. (Remember that some Print publications have Web publications with slightly different names. They may, for example, include the additional information or otherwise modified information, like domain names [e.g. .com or .net].)

  • Any version numbers available, including revisions, posting dates, volumes, or issue numbers.

  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.

  • Take note of any page numbers (if available).

  • Medium of publication.

  • Date you accessed the material.

  • URL (if required, or for your own personal reference; MLA does not require a URL).


What does it look like

What does it look like?

  • Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.

  • Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

  • The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2008.

  • Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003. Web. 10 May 2006.


Book resources

Book resources…

  • Evaluating BooksYou need to evaluate the information you are finding. It is an essential part of the research process! Consider these five criteria:

  • Authority: Who wrote the book? What are the author’s credentials? Who is the publisher? If the publisher is an academic press, this generally means a scholarly resource. o Tip: You can find this information on the title page of the book.

  • Audience: Who is the book written for? A specialized audience? Or a more general one? Is the focus appropriate for your topic? o Tip: You can sometimes locate this information in the preface of the book.

  • Accuracy: Does the information appear to be well-researched or is it unsupported? Is the book free of errors? o Tip: See if the author is footnoting information and providing a bibliography of sources consulted.

  • Objectivity: Does the book appear biased or is the authors viewpoint impartial? Is the author trying to influence the opinion of the reader? o Tip: Is the author’s viewpoint very different than others in the field? In that case you will want to examine the data and supporting evidence closely.

  • Currency: When was the book published? Is it current or out of date for your topic? In general, areas in the humanities don’t need up-to-the minute research while areas in the sciences do. Has the book been revised or is this a new edition? o Tip: This information is located on the back of the title page.


What are the parts of a book

What are the Parts of a book…

  • Cover

  • Title

  • Author

  • Illustrator

  • Table of Contents

  • Text

  • Glossary

  • Index


What does it look like1

What does it look like?


Book citation

Book Citation

  • The author’s name or a book with a single author's name appears in last name, first name format. The basic form for a book citation is:

  • Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

  • EXAMPLE

  • Book with One Author

  • Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Penguin, 1987. Print.


Article research

Article Research…

  • Articles are found in periodical publications, issued on a regular or "periodic" basis (daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly). These include newspapers, popular magazines, and academic or scholarly journals. Scholarly articles are usually the most appropriate source of information for research papers.

  • Searching for Articles

  • Full-text articles are found in two main formats: print and electronic.


Citing an article

Citing an article…

  • Article in a Magazine

  • Cite by listing the article's author, putting the title of the article in quotations marks, and italicizing the periodical title. Follow with the date of publication. Remember to abbreviate the month. The basic format is as follows:

  • Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages. Medium of publication.

  • EXAMPLE

  • Poniewozik, James. "TV Makes a Too-Close Call." Time 20 Nov. 2000: 70-71. Print.


Citing an article1

Citing an Article…

  • Cite a newspaper article as you would a magazine article, but note the different pagination in a newspaper. If there is more than one edition available for that date (as in an early and late edition of a newspaper), identify the edition following the date (e.g., 17 May 1987, late ed.).

  • EXAMPLE

  • Brubaker, Bill. "New Health Center Targets County's Uninsured Patients." Washington Post 24 May 2007: LZ01. Print.


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