Here are some ideas for you to use in helping your students with the information search process:

Questions to start the conversation with your students: Are you unsure as to where to start?

If so, you're not alone! Everyone experiences this at some time or other, but some people have strategies or techniques to get them started. When you are planning a project, presentation or paper, try some of the following suggestions.

EXPLORE the problem -- not the topic

  1. Who is your reader?
  2. What is your purpose?

DETERMINE your goals

  1. How can you achieve your purpose?
  2. Can you make a plan?
  3. What resources will help you meet your goals?

GENERATE some ideas

1. Brainstorm -ask for help from the library, your professor, and classmates

-Write down your ideas, and others' ideas
-Don't censor or evaluate
-Keep returning to the problem

2. Talk to your audience
- What questions might they ask?
- What different kinds of audiences might you have? Do you have the answers to their potential questions? If not, how can you locate the answers?

Help your students explore their topic: help them ask the right questions for the type of paper or project you have assigned

Remind them of the difference between analysis, opinion, and other styles of writing. Help them understand more fully what your expectations are.

Below are some areas which might help you jumpstart the conversation.

A. Compare/Contrast

  1. What is ____ similar to? In what ways?
  2. What is ____ different from? In what ways?
  3. ____ is superior (inferior) to what? How?
  4. ____ is most unlike (like) what? How?

EXAMPLE: Compressed air automobiles versus Gasoline powered cars, versus other alternative "Green" energy sources.

B. Journalistic questions

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? So What?

C. Common topic areas

D. Definition

  1. How does a comprehensive college-level dictionary define ____?
  2. What do I mean by ____?
  3. What group of things does ____ belong to?
  4. How is ____ different from other things?
  5. What parts can ____ be divided into?
  6. Does ____ mean something now that it didn't years ago? If so, what?
  7. What other words mean about the same as ____?
  8. What are some concrete examples of ____?
  9. When is the meaning of ____ misunderstood?

EXAMPLE: Commune, Community, Europena Economic Community

E. Relationships

  1. What causes ____?
  2. What are the effects of ____?
  3. What is the purpose of ____? - What is the consequence of ____?
  4. What comes before (after) ____?

EXAMPLE: Acid Rain

F. Testimony

  1. What have I heard people say about ____?
  2. What are some facts of statistics about ____?
  3. Can I quote any scholarly articles, proverbs, poems, or sayings about ____?
  4. Are there any laws about ____?

EXAMPLE: Should doctors be allowed to prescribe medications which would end a person's life?

G. Circumstances

  1. Is ____ possible or impossible? (based on what peer reviewed articles, expert opinions)
  2. What qualities, conditions, or circumstances make ____ possible or impossible?
  3. When did ____ happen previously, and under what conditions?
  4. Who can do ____?
  5. If ____ starts, what makes it end?
  6. What would it take for ____ to happen now?
  7. What would prevent ___ from happening?

EXAMPLE: Could the United States suffer another major stock market crash, triggering another Great Depression?