You are giving a speech, but you will use other people's expertise and experience to help support what you may already know. Determining the best people and sources to support your ideas is the first step to high quality research!
Who would provide authoritative information on your topic?
"Constructed" authorities: Individuals who hold advanced degrees in a subject, have many years of professional experience, or have been widely recognized for their mastery of a topic.
Scientists or Researchers
Professors or Academics
Doctors or Medical Professionals
"Contextual" authorities: Nonprofessional individuals whose personal experience on your topic is appropriate in the context of your speech.
Special interest groups
Members of a community
Witnesses of an event
What authorities would be most relevant and entertaining for the other students in your audience?
Write your topic on a blank sheet of paper. Then try to write down 5 constructed authorities and 5 contextual authorities for the topic.
If you can't think of any, move on to the "Understand the Basics of Your Topic" page, and then come back to your list when you have more information.
Research Tip: Review the CRAAP Test
Train yourself to use high quality sources by putting all information to the CRAAP test. The criteria for your CRAAP test may be different from your classmates. Remember that you should evaluate every source within the context of your assignment.
CURRENCY: Timeliness or Publication Date of Information
Before you begin searching, write down a date range that is appropriate for your topic. For certain topics (technology, legal, medical, etc.), even 5 year old information may be too old. Setting and sticking to a publication date range will help you eliminate weak information quickly.
RELEVANCE: Applicability to Your Research Needs
You may find search results that contain all your keywords, but aren't relevant to your goals for the topic. Before you begin searching, write down specific questions you want to answer. This will help you search with greater purpose and avoid information that is too general or broad.
AUTHORITY: Source or Creator of the Information
Your research should always come from reputable sources. Before you begin searching, think of people who would be knowledgeable on your topic. Avoid crowd sourced internet sites like Answers.com or Wikihow for better alternatives specific to your topic.
ACCURACY: Trustworthy, Reliable or Correct Information
The internet is notorious for inaccurate information. Using the other CRAAP criteria, determine if the author of the information is trustworthy. Then search to see how other sources on the same topic agree or disagree with the author's conclusion. Searching and reading widely from many different sources helps you expose inconsistencies or inaccurate information.
PURPOSE: Reason the Information Exists
Intentions may influence the quality of the information. If an author is writing an article to sell something, to influence or change your opinion, or to entertain you, the quality of the information will change. Follow the money trail. Try to determine who may be making money (a publisher, a company, an individual, etc.) and how that may affect or skew the information.