Students » Basic Research Tips

Basic Research Tips

Basic Research Tips

  1. Choose a topic.
    1. Your topic should be general enough to research, but not too specific as to limit your resources.
    2. Ex: Hurricanes
  2. Think of several questions concerning your topic.
    1. These questions will be where you start your research.
    2. Ex: 1. How are hurricanes classified? 2. How are hurricanes named?   3. What is the difference between a hurricane and a tropical depression?
  3. Identify key words to research.
    1. If you do not know much about your research topic, then your key words would actually be your topic. Also, key words can come from your research questions (Step 2).
    2. Ex: tropical cyclone, hurricane season, parts of a hurricane
  4. ***Select Sources.***
    1. Remember, you do not always have to stick to the Internet. Your library media center offers a lot of print resources!
      1. GALILEO- lots of databases that will include articles, pictures, and videos about your topic
      2. Book and Encyclopedia Resources- use Destiny to locate books about your topic
  • Magazines
  1. Search Engines- Google, Yahoo, Bing, and etc. This should be your last resort. Using search engines correctly takes a lot of time and practice.
  1. Ex: Britannica Online Encyclopedia- typed in hurricanes & Howling Hurricanes by Louise and Richard Spilsbury-book found in LMC
  1. Skim through the information.
    1. Quickly read over the information and decide if it will be useful for your research topic.
    2. If the information is not useful, disregard the source and look for another source.

Note-Taking for MLA

  1. Complete ALL of the Basic Research Tips.
  2. Have plenty of index cards. I would recommend the large index cards (5x8). If you don’t have those, regular index cards (3x5) will work.
  3. Create a NOTE-CARD for each fact you are using from a source.
  4. Your note-card should have the following parts:
    1. Slug- a word or phrase that describes the subtopic (written in upper left corner)
      1. Ex: Hurricane Size
    2. Source Number- the source number matches a SOURCE-CARD which has all of the correct MLA citation information on it (written in upper right corner). This will help you keep everything organized, and help you not to plagiarize.
      1. Ex: 2
    3. Note- your fact from the source. This can be a direct quote, summary, or paraphrase.
      1. Ex: A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone.
    4. Parenthetical Notation- This is the information required by MLA to show up in the body of your research paper.
      1. Ex: (Ready). ***This is the parenthetical notation for the fact listed above. It’s from the website
    5. Note Type- this should tell you if the note is a direct quote, summary, or paraphrase from the source.

MLA Citations: The Basics

  1. You should create a SOURCE-CARD for each of your sources (electronic or print).
  2. The information you include on your source-card will be the same information you include at the end of your research product. The information included on each source-card will vary by the type of source.

Books: Basic Format

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

***Look for the links at the bottom of the page to help with different types of MLA citations.***

MLA Citation Links

Online Writing Lab (OWL)- MLA Style/Format Guide

EasyBib: Free Bibliography Generator


BibMe- Examples of MLA Citations for Different Source Types