Skip to Main Content
Stony Brook University

Kings Park Independent Science Research

Subject Guide for Kings Park Independent Research session.

Searching for Information on Your Topic

Define and refine your topic

  • Narrow or broaden your search.
    • Determine best search terms for your topic
    • Use search strategies to improve your searches
      • Boolean Operators
      • Phrase Searching
      • Truncation/Wildcards

Formulate your research questions

  • Factual Questions - You may need to investigate some factual questions before you begin your research. Some examples: What does pH mean? What is the difference between abiotic and biotic factors?
  • Research Questions - What do you want to know about your topic? Is your question researchable and answerable?

Identify Library Resources

  • What databases, catalogs, or other information sources should you use?
  • What types of information do you need?
    • Primary Sources
      • Created during the the original research or during the time under study. First-hand, contemporary, direct evidence or data
      • Examples: peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings, works of literature/art, interviews/transcripts, musical scores, autobiographies/diaries, eyewitness accounts, emails/texts/tweets/posts/podcasts, photographs
    • Secondary Sources
      • Viewpoint outside the original source, put primary sources in context
      • Examples: articles in magazines/newspapers, literary accounts, book/movie reviews, biographies, second-hand accounts, interpretations, commentaries, scholarly articles evaluating original research.
    • Tertiary Sources
      • Sources that assemble information from a variety of primary and secondary sources. General and removed from source.
      • Examples: textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, manuals, directories, guidebooks, databases.

Find Information on your topic

  • What kind of sources do you need? (ex: peer-review journal articles, background information, data)
  • Use the appropriate library resources. (ex: article databases, library online catalog, digital collections)

Cite your sources

  • Capture bibliographic information/citation.
    • Most databases and online catalogs have options to capture this information.
  • Use a citation style appropriate for your paper. (APA, MLA, other)