Refine your project idea and do some research

Why do research?

Once you have developed a testable idea, you will need to do some background research before you begin. When you write your research paper for the competition, your introduction will be expected to have a complete set of references. Your research will help you with the following:

  • define unfamiliar terminology.
  • explain the background of your topic.
  • understand what others have done in the area, which will in turn help you…
    • refine your project idea.
    • plan your experiments.
    • compare your results to previous research.
    • tie your project in with a bigger picture.

Types of Sources

Your sources may include some of these:

  • Websites
  • Textbooks
  • Magazine articles
  • Scientific journal articles
  • Trade journals

Books and journal articles are peer-reviewed, scholarly sources. In the sciences these are most of the sources that you should use. Websites can be scholarly, depending on the publisher, but most are not. These are still valid sources to use but should not be your main source of information. Check out the websites below for some tips on how to distinguish between different types of sources. You should aim for most of your sources to be scholarly.