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Research Process


This video describes the major characteristics of primary and secondary sources, and how they can be used in research. 

Different Subjects require different types of sources but most will put more emphasis on 'Scholarly' Sources. These could also be called 'Academic' or 'Peer-reviewed' Sources....but WHAT ARE THEY? 


These all mean the same thing… 

  • ...Produced by experts or researchers in a specialized field or discipline. 

  • ...Purpose is to present new or unpublished research. 

  • ...Articles reviewed by experts for scholarly content or quality, or 

peer reviewed 

  • ...Written using formal language and structure: abstract, 

literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, footnotes, endnotes and/or bibliography. 

  • ...Articles always cite source information. 

  • ...May include tables or graphs to support research. 

How do articles get peer reviewed? What role does peer review play in scholarly research and publication? This video will explain. 


What is Open Access? 

Open access (OA) refers to freely available, digital, online information. Open access scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors.  

Open Access is not related to an item’s quality; the material may or may not be peer-reviewed. 

While copyright and licensing may be less strict than traditional publishing this does not mean all OA works are in the Public Domain. Most authors retain copyright. 

What is open access? Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen's video takes us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it's all about.  


Google Scholar allows you to search across many disciplines and locate resources such as articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions. 

It is a useful search tool as it makes use of Google's sophisticated search algorithms, allows natural language searching, and locates related and citing articles. 

You can use Google Scholar to locate Open Access resources, however without having an institutional login you will not be able to access everything in your search results. 

Directory of OPen Access Books (DOAB): searchable index of peer-reviewed books under Open Access with links to full-text at publisher websites & repositories 


Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): independent database contains ca. 12000 open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social science and humanities 


ERIC (Education Resources Information Center): thousands of publications relevant to education, human & natural sciences, the arts and more. Has option to select peer-reviewed & full text only 


PubMed Central: database with millions of full-text articles on many topics in the Natural Sciences 


SAGE Open: SAGE Open is an open access publication from SAGE. It publishes peer-reviewed, original research and review articles in an interactive, open access format. Articles may span the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities. 


Taylor & Francis Open: Taylor & Francis publish high quality, rigorously peer-reviewed open access (OA) research across a range of disciplines. 

JSTOR is an academic database which the school subscribes to. 

It can be accessed via Research Databases Lib Guide which can be found on the Library Homepage 


On Campus: if you access JSTOR on campus you should automatically gain access to the school's account. At the top, centre of the screen it should say "Access provided by UWC Changshu China" 


Off Campus: to get access you will need to log in as follows: 

  • Use the Log in button that appears in the top right corner of the JSTOR home page 

  • On the left-hand side of the following screen use the user name and password: 
    Username: UWC_Changshu 
    Password: uwccsc 


Below are links to guides produced by JSTOR to help you use this resource more effectively. You can find other guides here Research Guides for JSTOR 



Once you have found material you need to make sure you don’t lose it! 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a “best” way to get yourself organized and there’s not just one single answer. The bottom line is you have to choose a system that works for your learning style and your writing habits. 

Research with your final product in mind:  

As you research, think about what “subheadings” or chunks you may want to write about (even though you don’t have all your information yet). 

  • If you need help with identifying your topic chunks, you could try writing a concept map. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, concept mapping essentially involves writing down a term or idea (e.g. effect of exercise on mental health) and then brainstorming other concepts that come to mind within that topic (e.g. impact on self-esteem, exercise as treatment option). 

Keep a journal/Write a research plan: 

  • Keep track of what databases you’ve tried, what keywords you’ve used, what didn’t go well, your thoughts and ideas… 


1 Organize by “subheading” or chunk:  

There were lots of different ideas for how to do this: 

  • Write a working outline: what will each subheading or part of your essay include? What will your arguments be? What sources support that point? 

  • Ignore the interesting-but-not-useful stuff:  what are your essay’s subheadings?  What is your argument?  Read for that information, make notes on that information, and then throw everything else out. 

  • Colour code (who’s surprised that librarians do this?):  assign a different colour to each subheading.  Then use highlighters, post-its, tabs, or font colour to organize your notes and articles. 

  • Create different folders on your computer or different Word files for each subheading.  Or if you like to print everything else, have a different folder or binder tab on each subheading. The bottom line is: keep related things together! 

  • One of our librarians also organizes chronologically within each chunk, because “each article/book may have been influenced by those that preceded it; even in a very short time-frame” and you may find overarching themes or arguments that you may not have noticed otherwise. 

2. Write notes, in your own words, on why your sources are helpful:  

Again, there were different ideas for how to do this.  It’s important to also note that these techniques can be done by hand or on a computer! 

  • Use cue cards: with the citation at the top (including page numbers!), write down the general ideas or concepts you want to use from that source.  You may have more than one cue card for each source, if you’re organizing your notes by subheading. 

  • Create annotationsagain with the citation at the top (and, of course, with the page numbers!), create a summary for each article/book you want to use.  Include the key parts/arguments/quotes that you liked from that source. 

  • Write your notes in your own words: why is this source helpful for your essay?  How does it support your thesis?  Say it regular language in your research notes, rather than writing out word-for-word what the book says. 


3. Save your research. You won’t find it again: 

  • Email your search results to yourself, print them, write them down by hand, use Zotero/Mendeley… anything but having to replicate your searches! 

  • Create a working bibliography: add resources that you want to use to this bibliography as you research 


4. Write out of order:  

  • You don’t need to write your introduction first and your conclusion last.  You can fix transition sentences and weird phrases later. (Additionally, don’t be afraid to go back and change your intro at the end – sometimes your essay goes in a different direction. That’s ok!) 


5. Write down ideas as they come to you: 

  • As you finish up your research, full-sentence paragraphs may come to you.  Write these down – even in your notes/working outline/cue cards, etc. 

  • If you’re working on the same project for a few days/weeks, you may get ideas as you try to fall asleep.  Or in the shower.   Or when you’re talking to your mom.  Keep a notebook or your phone handy to write these down as they come to you (and then go back to sleep!). 


Taken from: 

Holmes, Kathryn A. “What's the Best Way to Organize My Research?” The Clever Researcher, 13 Feb. 2018, 

A note taking system which can be used for in-class note taking, revision notes or research notes. Below are video and examples of what it looks like and how to do it yourself. 



Zotero is a free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials. 


Screenshot from resource folder in Zotero