Tips and Tricks

1. choosing a topic / initial exploration

Google and Wikipedia are definitely your friends here. Use these tools to figure out:

  • What your topic is about

  • Whether there’s enough info out there for you

  • Start your research

Wikipedia note: Some teachers will still tell you wikipedia is a bad source. And it can be. But it’s also a great resarch starter. Look for and at the citattions on the page to find good sources and also to confirm whether it is a good research page.

Some other search engines that might help:

2. where to find resources

All of our resources – newspapers, databases, magazines – are listed here.

Subject-specific resources can be found here.

We’ve got you covered from magazines, newspapers, statistic sources, databases and more!!

Need some help understanding how to find and use resources? Check our video here.

3. how to know your resources are good

There are many criteria to help you evaluate the appropriateness of your resources. At NHS we favour the CRAP method – Currency, Relevance and Reliability, Authority, and Purpose.

ALWAYS keep your final product in line. Learning about the technology behind the first ipod might be fun, but if your assignment is to talk about the marketing of the product you are wasting your time.

4. organizing your research

You need to organize and synthesize your research before starting to outline your assignment. I know, this is an easy step to skip, but it’s also the easiest way to get your assignment to a level 4. The best organizing is one that helps you connect all your different sources together. Some suggestions:

  • Chunking: Divide your research by topic / theme. Make use of note/index cards, different google docs, or even just a table within a document. Use different colours to differentiate.

  • Sketchnoting (check out our info page on the topic, it’s pretty cool)

  • Annotated Bibliographies: Many people think of bibliographies as the last thing to do, but they shouldn’t be. Writing a summary of each source can help you organize and write your assignment

5. creating your outline

This is a creative process and you have to avoid being rigid. Some helpful tips:

  • First, clear your mind and write down or visualize two things: 1) One sentence to remind you what the assignment is asking you to do. 2) One sentence to summarize what your entire assignment is trying to accomplish. Write them out, post them beside your computer, and refer back to them. If you lose focus on either of these, you lose marks.

  • Second, focus on the meat and potatoes. Avoid the introduction / conclusion and try to work out your main arguments. In an essay this will be your main arguments.

  • Outlining one topic may give you ideas about another, or raise questions you hadn’t thought of. Make sure you jot those down as you’re going to forget them later.

  • Use hierarchy [a nugget list can help] with your main points at one level and supporting points on the next level

6. citing your sources

If you’ve followed our tips, you have a list of resources and links where you got your information. You may in fact already have many of them cited. Here are some tips for citing your sources.