I don't know where to start... but I have to write a research paper.
So - you have to write a research paper... but you're not sure how to even start. You have a basic topic that has been provided by your teacher or there is something that you're interested in, but would like to know more about.
Have a research question! You cannot find the answer if you don't know what the question is. The question can be broad, or you may already have narrowed it down. Using the following example of a broad question, we'll use various videos to help you navigate through the process.
Topic: Obesity in teenagers and associated health issues.
This topic is very broad and it's hard to know where to start. Look at your topic: There are some words that stand out as keywords. obesity, health, teenager.
Getting started: Running a basic search to find general background and information that will allow you to narrow the topic down. Take a look at this video to see how you can use these three words to get started and find some relevant articles.
Wild Card searching. Are you finding enough information on your topic? You think your keywords are good, but you still need more articles to read. Learn how to retrieve more articles using just one search. A wild card will allow you to retrieve articles containing words that start with the same stem. child* will retrieve articles containing all words that begin with that stem. child/children/childlike/childish.
Check out this video to see a wildcard search using the meridian databases.
Decide what information you need. Do you need dates, facts, descriptions, primary or secondary sources. Where might you find what you need? (encyclopedia, database, book, magazine, journal, museum or even on the web) Locate the resources Either at the library or online. Check the library catalog to see if any books are available. Check the school databases. Check the web. Use google scholar or advanced search to get specific results. Evaluate the available resources: Do they help you to answer the questions you have about the topic? Do they help you show both sides of the argument? Are they from credible sources?
Useful tips - a. Remember to write down a variety of keywords and subjects before you start searching in the databases. b. Check your local library for additional databases and books. c. Gather your sources in one place. This is easy with Google drive. Write your paper. Create an outline to get you started. Create your citation list/bibliography. Proofread your paper.
Reflection: Does your paper answer the original question or did you have to revise your original question? Did you have all the information you needed to create the bibliography? Did you cite all authors work that you used to make your points. Give credit where it's due and avoid plagiarism.
How do I find a primary source?
Definition: According to the Library of Congress, they are "Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. " Primary sources can be anything from historic documents to a personal diary or letter written at the time of the event being studied.
Can I find them in the school databases? It's possible that there are some primary sources in the form of documents / diaries. However, the databases will contain mostly secondary sources.
There are many other places to try looking for primary source documents. Where you look will depend on your research question.
Library of Congress - this is a good general resource for a wide variety of documents and online exhibitions.
National Archives - this is a good place to start looking for historical documents. Many items are available online.
British Library Check here for information about British history, or if you need facts from a British perspective.
British Museum A good resource for British and/or some European historical information and artifacts.
Smithsonian Museum: Check here for information about a wide variety of historical and scientific topics.
Tutorial 1: Getting started with research. Learn how to use the Britannica database and dictionary as well as google define to get started on your research project. Use the Encyclopedia database to link to magazine articles about the same topic.
Evaluate a web site
Hand out - how do you know if a website is worth using? Use the CRAAP acronym to evaluate the website you want to use?
Link to google form - Evaluate your website and get librarian feedback.