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SV Media Information Center: Research Guide

Access the MIC Resources Anytime from Anywhere

What Exactly IS Research?

Research is: 

  • Driven by a question or problem that then guides the process
  • Seeking information with a clear goal in mind
  • A process, which works best when done step- by-step. The steps may need to be repeated, as the process is reiterative
  • Collection and interpretation of data in an attempt to resolve the problem or answer the question
  • Going beyond facts and old ideas
  • Taking a new look at the information and taking a stand

Research is not:

  • Copying and pasting information you find through a Google search
  • Combining a paragraph from one article with a couple of paragraphs from websites. That's plagiarism.
  • Writing a "report"
  • Rearranging facts
  • Rewording each phrase and citing each source. That's just a summary of facts with someone else's name on them and still can be classified as plagiarism.

Words for the wise student:

Netcaster. David Douglas Duncan, Mexico, 1937. Photography Collection.

  • Remember, begin with a "wide net" in your search and then narrow your search results from there. You will generally find more information than with a very narrow search.
  • Don't wear "blinders" as you look for information on your topic. If you only look for specific information to answer a specific question, you may miss many opportunities to broaden your understanding of your topic.
  • Allow for surprises- you may find your views on your topic will change and take you in an entirely new direction.
  • Remember that research is searching again and again (re - search).
  • In the process of doing research, you will be looking at information that others have looked at before, trying to see something that they have not seen.

[Special thanks to Meg Omainsky for permission to adapt her research guide]

How to Search

Use Library Resources

The Big 6

Following these steps will help you to focus and stay organized while doing your research.

1. Task Definition

  • Define your assignment & identify information needed to complete it.
  • Restate the assignment in your own words. What are you interested in learning?
  • Gather basic information about your topic by reading articles, web pages etc.
  • Talking with teachers/parents/librarians is also helpful.

2. Information Seeking Strategies

  • Make a list of all possible sources & select the best ones.
  • Choose from nonfiction, news articles, reference books, web pages, databases, ebooks and multimedia encyclopedias.

3. Location and Access

  • Locate sources & find information within the texts.
  • Consult the library catalog, library reference section, search engines, and web-based references
  • Use a graphic organizer to map out your topic and sub topics

4. Use of Information

  • Engage with your source: read, hear, view & extract the most valuable information
  • Use skimming and scanning to find information that addresses your topic.
  • Look for key words, pictures, read headlines and first & last paragraphs of articles to help find the “right” information.
  • Take notes – cite your source on your note card 
  • Summarize, paraphrase or quote.
  • Remember to cite each source you use. Use EasyBib

5. Synthesis

  • Choose the format of your project and organize your research notes according to how you will share the information.
  • If your format is a paper, begin by writing an outline.
  • If you are producing a PowerPoint or multi-media presentation, categorize your main bullet points and images. Different formats require different types of organization.
  • Present the information effectively by practicing and knowing your audience.

6. Evaluation

  • Judge the product (effectiveness). 
  • Judge the process (efficiency).
  • Did you meet your objective?
  • Judge the quality of your work.
  • Next, judge the quality of your presentation.
  • You can use criteria such as accuracy, content, creativity and legibility.

Big6: Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz. Adapted from the Copley Library Guide,, and the Eugene Ashley Library Guide,    

Narrowing Your Research Topic

How Do I Log-in?

You are already logged-in when you are at school.  To access these resources from home or anywhere else, see below:

Destiny (library catalog): 

Log in using your Google PDSD student account.  

Databases and Encyclopedias:

World Book and JSTOR use the username: sun, and password: valley.   

Gale in Context High School, Gale Literary Sources and Gale Virtual Reference Center use the ID: sunvalley (notice there is no space).

Ebsco Explora, History Reference Center, Literary Reference Center, Science Reference Center and Ebsco Ebooks use the username: sun, and the password: valley2022!  

All of the other databases are provided through POWER Library, which allows you to sign up for a free eCard to use their eResources or you can enter your public library card number.  If you don't have a public library card, you can sign up for one to access their large collection of ebooks, audiobooks, emagazines and their databases.  Fill out this form and they'll send you a card number ASAP.

See or email Mrs. Smith for help:  

Research Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary

“Google is not a synonym for research.”  
                                                          Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol

It is one tool that can be used carefully in research.  Use it wisely along with databases, reference books, and other search engines.  When searching the internet using Google or any other search engine, you need to evaluate the credibility of the information you find and the sources.  See Mrs. Smith for help.   


Systematic investigation or inquiry aimed at contributing to knowledge of a theory, topic, etc., by careful consideration, observation, or study of a subject.

The Research Process

Conducting research is a process.  Learning some simple steps can help make your work efficient and successful. With the help of this guide, you will learn the Big 6 Research Process. This approach can help you structure your research and can be applied to any research assignment with which you are faced. View the following Prezi (created by Christine Gudowski and made available for educators) for an introduction to the Big6 and the research process.

Developing Keywords

Search Using Keywords


A portion of this guide is adapted from a guide created by Nancy Florio, librarian at The Canterbury School's Copley Library in New Milford, Connecticut, USA.