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High School Classes

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

Accessing resources

As high school students your best options for accessing research literature and good-quality sources include:

  • Your school library
  • Your local public library (Calgary Public Library, or other)
  • University of Calgary libraries (visit us on-site to borrow print or access online resources)
  • Online sources such as Google Scholar, open access resources, and others

This Module explores these options in more detail!

Why use the Library?

Q: Can't I just use the Internet to find resources?

A: It's an option. Google Scholar is a good start for that. BUT! There are drawbacks. You may be asked to pay for an article, when if you access it through the library search box it may be freely available to you. You will also come across non-academic (or non peer-reviewed) articles that just won't cut it for your class paper.

The Internet is full of all sorts of materials that may be questionable in terms of their accuracy. Starting from the library homepage is a safer bet.

Information on borrowing materials from the library can be found on the Borrowing webpage. 

How do I search?

Brainstorm some keywords: the main concepts you are searching.

The main topics of your assignment will be your first keywords to use. 

But additionally you'll need to think creatively about your topic. You are also looking for different words to explain the same concept. They can be synonyms or near-synonyms; for example, 

Boolean logic uses AND, OR and NOT to connect keywords.

“AND”    Narrows your search strategy - if your search strategy is: japan AND earthquake 

“OR”      Broadens your search strategy - if your search strategy is: nuclear power OR nuclear energy 

“NOT”    Eliminates certain search terms - if your search strategy is: economic NOT social

Search tips

  • Start your search broad:  (with fewer search terms) and then narrow it down.
  • Don't be discouraged! Your first search won't be perfect - keep trying!
  • Look beyond the first page of results. Your perfect article might be on the second or the fifth page of results.
  • "Citation chain" - Once you find one relevant article look at the reference list at the end of the article. This method of finding articles is called citation chaining.