Big 6 Research Skills (3-4)

Big 6 Research Skills
The Big6 model for research is a step-by-step approach to finding and evaluating information. Students use this method to find information that is relevant to their topic of study and to create a substantial product.
What are the six steps?
1. Task Definition
2. Information Seeking Strategies
3. Location and Access
4. Use of Information
5. Synthesis
6. Evaluation
Let's break each of these tasks down into a series of questions to help teachers and students find what they need.
Task Definition
The goal of this step is to be sure of the job you have to do! What exactly do you have to find out? Ask yourself the following:
  • What do I have to do or find out?
  • What kind of final product am I expected to present to the teacher/class?
  • Does it have to be a certain length or time frame?
  • What is the topic?
  • What is the due date? Is there a timeline of specific due dates for drafts, etc?
Once you know the answers to those questions, start listing information that will help you gather additional information on your topic. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What information do I need to start the task?
  • What are key words/phrases that I need to use?
  • What questions do I want to answer?
  • What kinds of information will I be searching for?
  • How am I requred to cite information? <--Important to know before researching so you can cite correctly!!
Information Seeking Strategies
The goal of this step is to determine what sources you can use for your project. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow your search:
  • What are all of the sources I could use if I had unlimited time and money?
  • What sources are best for me to use?
Location and Access
The goal of this step is to determine where you must go to find the information you need for your project. Ask yourself the following to help you find where you need to look:
  • How can I find what I need in the library or online?
  • Who can help me if I don't know how to use the online catalog or can't find what I need?
  • How do I find the information I need within the sources?
Use of Information
The goal of this step is to help you use the information you've found. This step breaks down your information into what you can and cannot use for your project. It may lead you to additional references or further broaden/narrow your topic. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What information does the source give me?
  • Is it in-depth enough or too simple?
  • Does it answer my questions?
  • Does it lead me to other sources?
  • Is it given in the types of formats I need (pictures, text, maps, etc)?
  • Can I understand the information? --Is it in a language I understand? Is it too scientific or technical?

The answers to the above will enable you to continue below.

  • Does the information help me complete my task?
  • Does the information make me want to change my original train of thought?
  • Does the information give me new key words/phrases?
  • How will I get information out of a source?

notetaking printing photocopying
videotaping tape recording drawing/sketching
scanning photographing interviewing


How you choose to take or copy information is up to you or your teacher; however, you must cite whatever information you gather. Once you have your information, determine if you're ready to start putting a draft of your project together. Ask yourself the following:

  • Have I double-checked facts?
  • Have I included bibliographic information?
  • Do I have enough information to begin organizing my thoughts?
If the answer to each of those questions is yes, then you may be ready to move on to step five.
The goal of this step is to put all of your information together to show what you have learned or what you want others to know. Ask yourself the following when organizing your work:
  • What presentation format does my project require (paper, presentation, PowerPoint, poster, etc)?
  • What materials do I need to put together my presentation?
  • What is the appropriate amount of time I need to create a draft and a final version of my work?
The goal of this step is to be the first person to critique your work. You should do this before any classmate, teacher, or parent reviews your work. Ask yourself the following:
  • Is my project finished?
  • Did I follow the assignment guidelines given by my teacher?
  • Did I complete all of the parts?
  • Are the parts in proper order?
  • Is it neat?
  • Did I use correct spelling and grammar?
  • Did I correctly cite all information I used?
Hopefully, this guide will help ease your research and make your project a great success!
For more information on Big6 Skills, see the following resources:
Teaching Elementary Information Literacy Skills with The Big6 by Joyce Needham (CHS Library PRO 028.707 NEE)
Internet Power Research Using the Big6 Approach (Revised Edition) by Art Wolinsky (CHS Library 025.04 WOL)
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