Conducting Internet, book, and periodical research

Suggested Search Engines

BPS Libraries Boston Public Schools Library & Media Services - A great resources for your research!
RefSeek An Academic search engine that will help you find useful reference material from maily .edu, .org and .gov sites.
Clusty This site searches through several other search engines and organizes the results into clustered and more easily manageable groups.
Infoseek Another educational search engine. All results are from reliable sources.
Dogpile All of the most popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask) in one!
Google The world's most popular search engine.

 Internet Research Tips

  1. Use suggested search engines above to conduct your Internet research.  
  2. Remember, you are specifically looking for information that will help you answer your essential question. 
  3. Play with different combinations of keywords and search engines to get a wider variety of sources.
  4. Print all Internet articles that you find helpful in answering your essential question and reliable.

Book Research (Boston Public Library)

  1. Hover your mouse over BPL Catalogs and select BPL Catalog (MBLN) from the menu.
  2. Use the search engine to search the library catalog for books related to your topic (you may need to play around with the keywords).
  3. Click on the book of interest and check the availability of the book. To do this, look to the menu on the left side of the page (the yellow box) and find where it says Availability Details . That link will tell you which libraries have your book. Remember, your looking for BPL Central (Copley), Dudley, or any library near where you live. Watch out for books that say In Library Use Only. This means that you can only view that book while you're in the building.
  4. Once you find the available books that are relevant to your essential question, copy names, author and call numbers and paste them into a word document.
  5.  Print your list of books.  Be sure to take this list on the field trip to the library.
  6. When you get to the library:

o   Look at the call numbers for your books.  You will notice that most of your books' call numbers start with the same letters.  Your task is to use your call number and other resources (library map, librarian, or Mr. Muhammad) to find the library stack where your topic is located.

o   Once you've identified the section for your topic, search the entire section and grab all books that seem relevant (based on the title, index and summary in the book).

o   Find a table to review your stack of books.  Your goal is to identify the books that will actually be helpful in answering your essential question and weed out the others.

Taking Notes!

Before you even think about taking notes, you need to ask yourself these 4 questions…
Did you…

  • Choose a topic and an essential question?
  • Write a proposal?
  • Go to the library and find a book?
  • Find 4-5 valid sources from the internet?

If you said YES to all four questions, then you are ready to take notes.


Taking Notes

Taking notes is a crucial and mandatory part of the process of writing a research paper. 

In other words, you have to do it.


  • Break down your big essential question into smaller questions or categories so you know what kind of information you are looking for as you take notes.

  • You must paraphrase and summarize key information IN YOUR OWN WORDS.  Plagiarism is unacceptable.  Your notes must be in your own words.

  • You must cite your sources.  Every note sheet or note card must be clearly attached to a source. 

There are 3 basic ways to take notes.  Choose the method that works best for you. 

Option #1
Notes sheets:

  • You put information and facts on notes sheet to match the main idea at the top.  Let’s say you are doing a paper on Probation Officers.  On the top of your first notes sheet you might put “ duties and responsibilities of a probation officer”.

  • Filling out notes sheets helps you write meaningful paragraphs for your paper as you “take notes”. 

Option #2
Colored index cards:

  • Each color is connected to a source.  For example, yellow cards are notes that connect to article A and blue cards are notes that connect to book B.  The main idea is written at the top. 

Option #3
Colored index cards:

Each color is connected to a category or main idea.  For example, let’s say you are writing a paper on Divorce Law.  All of your yellow index cards connect to “child custody laws” and all of your blue index cards connect to “child support laws”.