The “Research Smarter” resource sheets have been produced by the CILIP Information Literacy Group under a Creative Commons license, which means that they are available to all schools to download from this website and to adapt and use with their own pupils to help support the delivery of any topic or activity that requires information literacy skills. Download the full set here.
Using the sheets to Research Smarter
These Research Smarter sheets have been designed to guide you through the research process from initial ideas to finished piece of work. They can be used to support purely academic research or to support more creative and innovative projects.
The sheets can be used as a series or as individual guides to support specific parts of the research cycle.
Why do I need to research my topic?
You may feel that doing research is a waste of time and that you are better off just getting started on your design.
But if you simply rush into your project:
- How will you know what has been developed already?
- Perhaps someone else has had your idea?
- Perhaps someone else has already conducted some research into your area of interest?
- Perhaps there is a new development that would really help you?
How to protect your ideas
Take a look around you. Almost everything that you use has been created by someone who has invested their time, effort and money to make it. There are rules that protect their and your creativity.
Creativity & intellectual property laws
These rules are called intellectual property laws and they don’t just apply to finished commercial products, they apply to anything that anyone creates that is original. They are important to understand if you want to sell your ideas or your creative work but they are also equally important if you want to give your work away.
Evaluating the information that you find using the CRAAP test
Once you have found your information it is important to evaluate them so that you keep the best ones for your project.
One way of doing this is by performing the CRAAP test on your sources.
Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose.
Search strategy: how do I make the most of a Google search?
Simply typing in your search term will bring back thousands, sometimes millions, of hits.
Be smart and reduce this number to get exactly what you want from your search.
Link your project to what your customer wants and actually needs
Having a great new idea or approach to solve a problem is fine, but remember that it has to be fit for purpose.
Think about the intended end users and their needs.
If you do not know what they want, you need to do some research to find out.
Research is a messy process!
Often research is done to help you formulate the right question for your own independent learning or to gather information to help you understand the factors involved in answering a specific question that you have been set. This means deciding what questions you need to have answers for and when and how you will do your research.
Reading reports, articles and opinions often provides answers – but often as you learn more about your topic, it leads you to more questions that need to be answered.
How to write an effective questionnaire
To get information and opinions that will be useful for your project, you will need to write your questions carefully. You need to be aware that the same question written in different ways might get different answers.
The best questionnaires are easy for the users to understand and also provide the researcher with answers that are easy to analyse. It is important that you consider what information you need to collect right from the start.
Referencing your research: creating citations and bibliography
There are 3 reasons why you need to reference, or show, where you found the information that you have used for your project or assignment:
- To show what you have read and found (or referred to). This allows the reader of your work to see how widely you have researched, and the range and type of sources (documents and/or people) that you have used
- To show that you are aware of current developments in your field
- To show that have acknowledged other people’s work and have avoided plagiarism (or copying ideas).
What search engines are out there?
Most of you will be familiar with Google and will automatically use it every time you need to search, but there are a number of different search engines to choose from that also search the internet.
What are the differences between them?
- Each engine has their own index, or collection, of sites that they look through. Different engines have different formulas, or ways, of searching through the information.
- Some engines are specialised, meaning that they only look for certain types of information in specific places on the internet.
The resource sheets were created by the following colleagues on behalf of the CILIP IL Group:
- Rebecca Jones, Learning Enrichment & Support Co-ordinator, Malvern St James, Malvern
- Darryl Toerien, Head of Library & Information Services, Oakham School, Rutland
- Darren Flynn, Information Literacy Lead, Dixons Allerton Academy, Bradford
- Sarah Pavey, Independent trainer and consultant to school libraries
- Caroline Roche, School Librarian, Eltham College
- Carol Webb, Forest Hill School, London
- Chris Morrison, University of Kent, Copyright and Licensing Compliance Officer
If you have any queries or feedback about these resources, please email the CILIP IL Group.