NOTE: The Britannica databases require a username and password to use at home. You can access this information here.
After you have selected a research topic, the next step is to choose the best resources to find the information you need.
Examples of sources:
Which resources are best will depend on your topic and assignment. For example, if you are looking for information on new developments in stem cell research, you will need recently published information, so news articles, reliable websites, and databases will probably be most useful. If, on the other hand, you are researching the causes of the American Civil War, the resources do not need to be recently published, so you will probably find books and primary source documents to be useful in addition to databases and reliable websites.
Using information from reliable resources is important because it helps you to fully understand your topic and it lends credibility to your work. There are three ways to incorporate your research into your writing:
Keep in mind that you must always cite your source even if you are not using a direct quote.
Read more about quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing on the Purdue OWL.
Every time you use information from one of your sources, you must include an in-text citation. This citation should be placed in parentheses after the information (but before the period) and generally includes the author's last name and the page number on which the information appeared. Here is an example of a quote from the book The Cheyenne by Gwen Remington:
You must also use an in-text citation when you paraphrase or summarize:
Learn more about in-text citations, including how to cite sources without authors or without page numbers, on the Purdue OWL.
Taking good notes when you are reading a piece you plan to cite in your writing is important. Why? Not only will it help you to keep your writing organized, but it will also help you to avoid accidental plagiarism.
You must credit ALL information you use from other sources—not just direct quotes but ideas that you paraphrase or summarize, too. Using one of the strategies explained below will help you to do this!
If you would like to take notes on the computer:
If you prefer to take notes by hand:
You've heard it over and over from your teachers: You must include a Works Cited page. A Works Cited page is not just a list of links. A Works Cited page in MLA format has a specific structure. Take a look at the example below:
The first citation is from a book, and the second is from the World Book Online encyclopedia. Most citations include the author's name, source title, publisher, date published, and medium (such as print or web). To easily create citations in the correct format, use the EasyBib add-on. If you are using an online database, you might be able to obtain the citation from there; for example, the second citation above was obtained from the World Book Online encyclopedia entry.