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High School Classes

This guide is designed to help build research skills for high school students

Learn the basics of your topic

Before you dive into your topic, it's very helpful to read background so that you know what you're getting into!

You likely already know something about the topic you're hoping to explore, so doing some background reading will help you figure out which angle or area you want to explore more.

This page shows some of the common places we go for background information, the pros and cons of those options, and some new places to try out!

What about Google?

Pros and Cons to using Google


  • Easy to use, familiar interface
  • Often a good starting point on a new topic
  • Difficult to filter results unless you apply search operators (see video)


  • Does not search everything on the web, especially behind subscriptions and paywalled content
  • Google is a for-profit entity, so advertising is everywhere
  • Hard to determine truth and quality of what's written, as it does not filter out fake or poor-quality information

Check out the short video clip below for more great tricks on using Google more powerfully as a research tool. 

Common Sense Education. (2018, Nov. 6). Essential Google search tricks for research [video]. YouTube.

And Wikipedia?

Pros and Cons to using Wikipedia


  • There are pages on many topics, allowing you to learn about many different things all in one place!
  • It contains a high-level overview of topics, which allows you to get started and learn the basics of an area before diving in further
  • Wikipedia is containing more and more sources! And references. On its pages, which help you to track information and possibly find next sources


  • Wikipedia is editable, meaning that the information you're reading may have been changed recently
  • Wikipedia is not peer-reviewed in the same way article journals or other scholarly sources are

Check out the short video clip below for more analysis of Wikipedia as a research tool. 

Seeker. (2013, Oct. 4). Is Wikipedia a credible source? [video]. YouTube.