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Research Success for Framingham High School Students Transitioning to College: The Process of Searching and Evaluating Research

Research is a process! Here are the steps.

Below are steps to conduct basic research using the model from the Society of College, National and University Libraries. As explained in The Information Literacy User's Guidethe model is called the "Seven Pillars of Information Literacy". If you need clarification on the process, you can refer to the sections in the open access textbook: The Information Literacy User's Guide. The page numbers are listed accordingly with each step.

Learn the process and practice it. You can apply the process to any research assignment in high school and in college!

Step 1: Identify: Understanding your information need

Textbook p. 8

Ask yourself what you already know about the research topic. Identify gaps in knowledge. Use background research to come up with a draft research question or topic phrases. 

Step 2: Scope: Knowing what is available

Textbook p. 16

Become familiar with your school and/or public library and the resources available to you. Ask for help from reference librarians. Know where to find the library catalog and databases.

Step 3: Plan: Developing research strategies

Textbook p. 28

Become familiar with library catalog and database features. Use synonyms to expand concepts. Create a Boolean search. Here is the strategy for a successful search: p. 44.

Sample search

Topic: climate change and policies


 "climate change" AND policies 


"global warming" AND laws

Step 4: Gather: Finding what you need

Textbook p.49

Find resources (articles, books, websites or data) for the assignment.  Look for academic sources. Do not use Wikipedia as a source.

Step 5: Evaluate:  Assessing your research process and findings

Textbook p.65

Use the CRAAP test as a guide to help you evaluate resources. (See section on the CRAAP method below.)

Step 6: Manage: Organizing information effectively and ethically

Textbook p. 91

Keep track of your sources to avoid unintentional plagiarism. Use index cards to record information about your sources. Use a citation management software like Easybib to help with citing sources.

Step 7: Present: Sharing what you have learned

Textbook p.91

The CRAAP Test

The list of questions below was developed by the Meriam Library at California State Library. Although some of the questions will apply when evaluating websites, most of the questions are useful when evaluating other sources (books, articles) as well. 


Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: 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 credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author's qualified 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  - commercial, .edu - educational, .gov - U.S. government, .org - nonprofit organization, or .net  - network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the 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 biased 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? Is it 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?

Subject Librarian

Hedda Monaghan's picture
Hedda Monaghan
Henry Whittemore Library
(508) 626-4664