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Checklist: recording your findings

Before providing you with a brief introduction to the different types of sources that are available to you, we introduce you to a checklist of factors you should consider every time you find a source which you believe may be useful for your research project.

The checklist is available to download in either Microsoft Word of PDF formats from the bottom of the page

It is important that you capture and record this information.


  • Publication date – is it up to date? Are there newer sources of information available?

  • Who is the author? What is their background? Are they an expert on the subject? If so, have they produced any other materials you can access?

  • Contents – check the chapters to see if there are any that specifically relate to your topic (remember, you can legally photocopy one full chapter of a book [do not forget the endnotes and publication details when copying]

  • Index – check for any specific references to your key themes and terms

  • Intro/abstract/press release/executive summary – does it give a promising overview?

  • Scan the beginning and the conclusion to see if it seems to provide a valuable argument (There is an exercise in Week 5: Academic Reading on ‘Scanning for specific information’)

  • Note down reference information (e.g. name of author, title of text, place published, date published, pages used). If it is an online source make sure you record the URL and the date you accessed it. For more on why this is so important and how to use references, see Week 6: Referencing

Whatever your topic and research question you will need to find and select material from reliable sources to help you to build, support or challenge your hypothesis.

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This article is from the free online course:

Developing Your Research Project

University of Southampton

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