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The Research Process: Step #3: Location and Access

This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to complete any research assignment and help you avoid the stress associated with waiting until the last minute to get started.

Step #3


Location and access means how and where you are going to find the information you need.

If it is a book, do you own the book or will you have to go to the library to borrow it? If you found a website, once you are there, do you know how to look for the information or section on your topic?  If our library doesn't have the book you need, do you know how to ask us to get it for you? When you are doing any or all of these things, you are completing Step 3 of the Big6.

Step 3: Location and Access

3.3.1 Locate sources

Figure out where you will get these sources. Beside each source, write its location. If it is a web site, list its web address. Try to use those that your teacher or librarian have linked or bookmarked. This will save you time. If your source is a person, figure out how you will contact him or her and make a note of this. Now, you will actually get the sources. You may have to get and use them one at a time. If so, come back to this step to locate each source.

3.3.2 Find information within sources

Now that you have the source in hand, how will you physically get the information you need? (Remember the questions you wrote in Task Definition?) This all depends on the source.

A. First make a list of words that will help you find information in all of your sources. These are called keywords. They are like synonyms and related words to your topic.You can find many of these in the questions you wrote in Big6 Task Definition. Watch the video below to see how you would go about creating keywords.

B. Now make a list of the sourcess of information you will use. Beside each, note how you will access the information you need.

  • Book: Look at the index or table of contents for your topic and keywords
  • Encyclopedia: Use the index volume (usually the last volume in the set) for the topic and keywords.
  • Databases that are subscribed to by your library (such as Gale, Worldbook Online, etc.): type topic and keywords in the search box. Try them separately and some together. Ask your librarian for help if needed.
  • Free web sites: use topic and keywords in subject directories.

The “Big6™” is copyright © (1987) Michael B. Eisenberg and Robert E. Berkowitz. For more information, visit:

    From Question to Keyword

    Video courtesy of University Libraries, University of North Carolina Greensboro.