With the many sources of information we have available to us, we often find ourselves with too much information! We need some way to sort through it all. We need to know what sort of questions to ask to determine whether the information available will adequately answer our questions. At each stage of your research, different questions need to be asked. Some guidelines are given here.
Before you start searching, it is best if you can define your information need. If you know what you're looking for, you'll be better able to recognize it when you've found your answer. Also, defining your information need helps you know where to start looking.
Some questions can be answered while you are looking at your search results in a database or search engines. Know the content of the databases, read abstracts (if available), do author searches, look at subject headings, and notice publication information (for dates, places, and publishers). Other questions will be answered when you are looking at the publication itself or at the full-text in a database.
Finally, after you have read through a book, an article, or other publication, you should be able to answer questions about the type and quality of information that it gives.
The Internet's potential for assistance in research is limitless, but it is important to remember that anyone can put up a web page, and there is no 'quality control' or editor for what you might find. This means that you must be the quality control inspector of your own results. It is important to always be ready to evaluate a website's reliability, especially if you are looking to use them in your research.
Some things you might consider when searching online include:
For more information and other great tips check out these checklists and other resources that will help you ask the right questions.