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EDSP 6362: Transition from School to Community

Advanced study in providing appropriate transitional services to individuals with disabilities.

Picking Your Topic is Research

Research Process

The research process can look different for everyone, and may look different from project to project, but most will have a few common features:

  1. Begin with a question you want answered. What are you most interested in learning?
  2. Decide what type of information you need: do you need newspapers, books, or scholarly articles?
  3. Gather and evaluate information: are your sources current, reliable, applicable, and unbiased?
  4. Is your question answered? Do you need more (or different) information? Do you need to change your question?
  5. Repeat 1-4 until you're ready to use the information: make a decision, write a paper, present, etc.

Don't forget to ask a librarian for help!

     

Developing Keywords

Make a research question from your topic.

  • For example: "What is currently being done to help conserve the endangered Giant Panda population?"
    • Keywords: conserve and Giant Panda

Think of related words.

  • Conserve: conservation, preservation, protection
  • Giant Panda: panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca (scientific name).

Get searching!

How to Evaluate Information

The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to determine if the information you have is accurate and reliable. Keep in mind, the type of source your need will depend on the situation. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your need.

Currency: The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevancy: The importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Help with Evaluation

More help is available: The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides an in-depth guide to evaluating sources and information, including print and internet sources.