Evaluate Resources

  • Making sense of information you find online can be tricky.  Try the SIFT method (developed by Mike Caulfield)

    Graphic explaining the 4 steps to S.I.F.T. method.  Click link for screen-readable version.

    For a full course on using the SIFT method to become more research savvy, check out this website.

    To make life easier, use the resources through the Media Center.  Using physical books purchased by your librarians and information found within the TN Electronic library means that you're more likely to find credible sources for your research. You can also use  Google Scholar to find scholarly resources.  

Search Tips

    • If your search doesn't come up with any results, try broadening your search terms or using different words that mean the same thing.
    • To find an exact phrase, put quotation marks around it when searching.
    • Use the Advanced search in Google, or choose the Advanced option when searching online databases in Option 2 above to really narrow your topic and find exactly what you want. You can also use filters after searching the Media Center and in the online databases.
    • When scanning through a website or online database article, use FIND to quickly jump to a keyword. Just hit Control and F on your keyboard and type in a word of phrase you're looking for. You'll be able to quickly jump to wherever that word appears in the online document.


  • You have to give credit whenever you use someone else's ideas (whether or not you use their exact words). Here are some resources to help you cite it right:

    • Purdue OWL- This is the ultimate source for all types of citations. Everything you ever wanted to know about citing your sources (both inside your paper and on your References or Works Cited page) is here. It also tells you how to format your paper depending on which style you're using (APA, MLA, Chicago Style, etc.).
    • CitationMachine - You put in a URL and it will create APA, MLA, Chicago Style, and other types of citations for free. You may have to fill in some of the blanks if the machine can't find certain pieces of information on its own. This site does not provide formatting help and isn't as reliable as Purdue OWL.
    • MLA Style Guide - A great reference for citations and formatting in MLA Style. The "Works Cited" and "Formatting a Research Paper" sections are most helpful. 
    • Columbus State Community College Library's guide to MLA8 - Another great resource for MLA formatting.  Includes sample pages.

    Citation tips:

    • At the very beginning of the research process, start a running reference list. It makes life so much easier as you go. Open a Google Doc and copy and paste the URL (or the title and author of the book) and Citation of every source you find along with a quick 4 or 5 word description of what the article or book is about. Don't worry about making it pretty, just save all the info so you can come back to it later. Even if you don't use all the sources in your final paper, it will save so much time and effort.
    • All of the resources you find using the credible options at the top of this page have built-in tools to help with Citations later on. Take advantage of them!
      • For Option 1 (resources in the Media Center), after you click on a title, click the blue Cite button.
      • For Option 2 (online databases and eBooks), after you choose an article, click Citation Tools on the right side of the screen.

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Most students plagiarize because they aren't sure how and when to cite someone else's work.  When in doubt, CITE YOUR SOURCE!  


    Types of plagiarism that students fall victim to (from turnitin.com)

    There are several free plagiarism checkers online like Plagiarisma

    Dr. Seuss Presentation on plagiarism


Formatting Tips

  • Formatting your paper correctly means setting your margins, centering certain items, double vs. single spacing, etc. It can even be as specific as what font and font size to use and whether or not to use all caps for certain words. Ask your teacher what the formatting expectations are for any given assignment. It can really make a difference.

    • Use the formatting tools built in to your document. Don't try to space words manually to line them up.
    • Google Docs provides templates for reports in both APA and MLA styles.  Simply open a new Google Doc, click on "File", then "New", then "From Template".