Research Overview

The method to our madness!

Our goal is to help students become efficient, effective and responsible researchers.

The team culture at Hillview is a great opportunity for the library to collaborate extensively with teachers to develop a comprehensive research program that builds gradually each year.  Please read each of the pages to find out which skills are taught at which level. Here are the answers to FAQs about our program.

Why doesn’t the library let students take notes any way they like to?

Each year we teach a different note taking strategy that allows students to focus on building specific research skills.  After they leave Hillview, they can choose which of those strategies worked best for them or develop new strategies.

Why start research with an encyclopedia when there is an entire book on the topic?

Students need to know the basics before they can understand which details are important.   Usually encyclopedias are the best sources for topic overviews; otherwise we offer other places to start.  Entire books on your topic are good for the end of your research when you need to fill in gaps or explore certain subtopics in more depth.

Can I use Wikipedia for research?

We do not recommend that students take notes from Wikipedia for research.  In fact, Wikipedia will tell you the same thing! Since anyone can alter most of the articles, you have no way of knowing whether the information you see at a given moment is accurate.  (Experts do check the information periodically.)  Wikipedia is generally fairly accurate, though, and as such can be used for entertainment purposes, or to help you decide which topic to research or to help choose subtopics.  (For more information, see Wikipedia’s excellent article, which includes many references!)

Why can’t we check out books from the library for our research?

Since entire grade levels do the same projects at one time, we set up reserve shelves to make sure the materials everyone needs are always available.  We will make a pathfinder of appropriate web resources for every project and the public library also stocks books on our research topics.  Check out the Digital Sources or Project Pathfinder sections for digital resources you can access outside of school.

Why do we have to do bibliographies anyway?

Bibliographies are a way to give credit to the authors when you use their intellectual property.   Other reasons include:

  • showing that you consulted the experts.
  • proving that you didn’t make it all up!
  • showing your readers where they can find more information.

Isn’t using Noodletools for bibliographies cheating?

Hillview students use an online source for formatting their bibliographies, which certainly feels like cheating to those of us who used to have to do them the old-fashioned way!  Some teachers were concerned that we had stopped teaching students a skill they would need in the future.  The truth is that the internet provides free sites that will do this for you, although Noodletools has the advantage of letting students store their work.  Also, most colleges and universities subscribe to similar citation services, so we are in fact teaching students a skill they will need in the future.  (Also, Noodletools has a free version or families can subscribe for themselves.)

So we feel that a better use of our time is to teach students how to find the correct information on the title page.  (We always say, the title page is your friend!  Click here to see sample title pages.)