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Research Skills
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Research SkillsWelcome to the wonderful world of research!

At some point in your school career, you are likely to need research skills. For example, in Science, your teacher might ask you to find out as much as you can about the planet Jupiter. Or in RE, you might be asked to complete a substantial project on Islam.

So, where to begin?

1. First of all, you should write down what you already know about your topic. You may know more that you think!
2. Then, you should write down what you want to know. Use this spider diagram to help you. Write the topic in the middle and record all the words you plan to type into your chosen search engine.
3. If you choose to use a search engine to find your information, click here for a list of them. There's more to life than Google!
4. When you get your results, don't just choose the first one. Use this checklist to make sure you get the best results.
5. Don't store all the information in your head! Take notes using this note-taking frame. This will help you to write the information in your own words.
6. Using your notes, present the information in a clear way, using a PowerPoint presentation or a poster. Remember to write it in your own words.
7. Always remember to keep a note of every website, book, magazine or newspaper you have used in your research. This is called citing your sources.

As a librarian, I am often asked "Why is it so important to write my research in my own words?" The main reasons are:

  • Your teacher will know for sure that you understand the topic. If you "copy and paste" you are presenting someone else's work, not your own.
  • A lot of information available on the internet is subject to Copyright Law. This means that the information belongs to someone else, and that they have worked hard to do their own research and put it in their own words. You should do the same!
  • When you present work to external examiners (e.g. Folio), they will be on the lookout for plagiarism (attempting to pass off someone else's work as your own). Developing research skills early on will ensure you don't fall into that trap.

(Information about plagiarism from the Scottish Qualifications Authority.)