Introduction

Research will be a part of your life no matter which college you choose to attend or which career you pursue later in life. Practicing the research process now will enable you to feel comfortable facing any future research project, whether it is for school, work, or your own personal interest. Research at Ravenscroft is, above all, a learning experience. As you strengthen your research skills in many different areas of study, you will also develop an appreciation of the standards of academic integrity and respect that reach across all disciplines. We have written this guide both to serve as a useful tool for completing the research process successfully and to create a uniform standard for research at Ravenscroft. We will be using the framework of the Big6 Model, a widely used information-finding process developed by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz (Eisenberg). Along the way, you'll find the tools you need for success for each step of the process.

Research is a life skill that will allow you to gain knowledge of any topic, no matter where your interests guide you. The first step in acquiring this skill is to understand that while research can serve many different purposes, all forms of research have the same general goal. In the largest sense, this goal is to create a conversation among experts which generates new knowledge or understanding about a chosen topic. Of course, the process itself may vary depending on the nature of the research task. The scale of research required for a poster project is obviously smaller than that for a ten-page research paper. However, all research requires thoughtful use of sources and careful documentation of the contributions of others in the making of your finished product.

As you begin to engage with research, note that the process is not often linear. Although this handbook presents each phase of the process as a “step” to be taken in a logical progression that will probably mirror the assignments you are given in class, good researchers realize that they may have to go backward and revisit some steps before they can move forward with their work. Throughout the process, you may meet stumbling blocks, or even brick walls, that will force you to reevaluate your progress and your plan. The best way to avoid frustration is to allow plenty of time to complete the process. Be flexible. Keep in mind that your best work will be a final product you are proud of and can stand behind with integrity.

 

Updates

Update August 2009: The American Association of School Libraries (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learner were released in early 2009 confirming our belief that these skills are necessary for all students. These standards include developing questions, evaluating resources, presenting information, and assessing the quality and effectiveness of the learning product. See http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards/ for more info.

Update September 2013: Our school has created a timeline for using these skills from PreK - 12th grades in an effort to prepare graduates for college research.