Research Tools

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Organizing your thoughts and locating quality resources are the first steps to producing a well-written research paper. The following links will help you develop a research strategy, find resources, write your paper, and cite your sources correctly. Please stop by the SMHS Library for any assistance.


Before starting your paper, get your ideas organized. These tools can help you do that.

Instagrok: This site will create an interactive concept map for your project that you can then customize and share.

Outline Maker: This handy outline maker features an easy-to-fill-in form that will help you get the main points of your paper organized.

GMU Research Process: This site, from George Mason University, provides an extensive outline, with links to helpful resources, that will help you define your research process and get started.


Don’t just Google it! Your teacher is requiring authoritative, expert resources for your paper. While you might find resources that qualify for your paper on Google, you will have to do all of the work on your own to determine if they meet the standards for your paper. Save yourself the bother and use one of the sites below to locate the resources you need for your research paper.

NCWiseOwl: This large collection of quality materials is provided online and completely free to all students in North Carolina. Be sure to stop by the SMHS Library for the password, but once you have that, you can access all NCWiseOwl databases from any computer with Internet access. Using it at school does not require a password, but you will need the pasword to access content at home. NCWiseOwl collections include hundreds of thousands of articles from quality print sources, as well as an extensive collection of eBooks and other resources.

SMHS Library Catalog: Did you know the SMHS Library has an up-to-date and varied collection of books chosen specifically for the research papers you will be required to write in high school? Take a look at our collection from any Internet-based computer by selecting Smoky Mountain High School and the Catalog tab at the link above. Make yourself a list of the titles you need, bring that list to the library, and we’ll even find them for you!

Fontana Library StudentAccess Program: The Fontana Regional Library makes all of its online and print materials available to all students in the Jackson County Public Schools. You need to use only your name and your student ID number (the same number you use for PowerSchool) to access all of the public library’s online databases. In addition, you can borrow up to 10 print or audio books when you visit the Jackson County Public Library. You do not need to visit the library to access the online resources. The student account is free. There are no overdue fines for students accounts, although you are responsible for lost or damaged books, as you would be from any library. See the next entry for a complete catalog of the Jackson County Public Library collection.

Jackson County Public Library Catalog: Our local public library is part of a regional group of libraries. This means that you have access to even more resources than those located in one building. On top of that, from the convenience of your own home, you can access eBooks and other electronic resources with your student ID number (see the link in the previous entry for details).

The Library of Congress Digital Collection: Our national library, the Library of Congress, has more than 162 million materials in a collection that spans national and world history and geography. While most of these items are only accessible at the library itself, thousands of public domain items are available online in a digital collection. These primary and secondary sources include journals, photographs, sheet music, newspaper articles, legal documents, and much more. It is a complicated collection and worth a browse. Not everything contained in it is a primary source, but it is a rich resource for such items.


Your teacher has provided you with the instruction necessary to write an effective, quality paper, but sometimes some extra help can be…well…helpful. Try one of these sites for answers to your writing questions if your teacher isn’t available or you are working on this at home.

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): This is one of the most comprehensive writing assistance sites available on the web. It’s like having writing experts on speed-dial. This site can provide help with many different kinds of writing, the research process, and citation creation.

The Writing Center: This site is provided by the University of Wisconsin to help students successfully complete their research paper from start to finish. The main page is especially helpful getting the process started and organized.

Annotate: This online tool allows you to work in a group or with a teacher to edit and make notes about the content of your work without having to email your paper back and forth.


One of the most important parts of your paper is citing your sources correctly. We cite sources for two main reasons: To allow your readers to locate your sources if they would like to read more details, and, most importantly, to give credit where credit is due, to the writers of the sources from which you have gathered your information.

CiteThisForMe: This citation maker is a service of Harvard University and features an interface that looks a lot like Microsoft Word with step-by-step instructions for building your citation.

EasyBib: This is a super simple online citation maker for those times when you need it in a hurry. Have your source information ready, and it will provide you with blanks for each required piece of information based on the citation style you choose.

NCWiseOwl: Not only does NCWiseOwl offer a citation maker as one of its many resources, each electronic database has a built-in citation maker for each article you decide to use as a resource. If you have questions about how to use this, please stop by the SMHS Library, and we will show you easy it is to use.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Plagiarism checkers are not perfect…even the services that charge a fee. Many of the free services have some inherent issues that might prevent complete accuracy. Some sites search only certain portions of the Internet, while others might search only professional materials.

The SMHS Library recommends using several plagiarism checkers for the same paper as a means of increasing your chances that any issues will be discovered before you turn in your work. It is, of course, the responsibility of the writer to avoid plagiarism at all costs. If you aren’t sure how to include in-text quotes or paraphrasing of others’ work that clearly identifies your source, please see your teacher or librarian. They can help you avoid those plagiarism pitfalls.

The following sites can be helpful in this process, but are not a guarantee that your work is plagiarism free. They just provide a good place to start.

Remember: ALWAYS CITE YOUR SOURCES and be certain that you are following the required citation style rules when quoting or paraphrasing a source in-text.

Plagiarism Checker: Copy and paste your text into the provided window and instantly discover whether you’ve inadvertently copied someone’s internet-based work. It will even check your spelling for you at the same time. You are limited to 1,000 words at a time, but it’s still an effective tool and completely free. It only searches the internet.

DupliChecker: This site is free, also limited to 1,000 words at a time, and searches only the internet. This site does require registration if you want to upload more than 1,000 words a day, but in addition to the plagiarism checker, it has numerous other tools including a paraphrasing tool and a reverse image search that can help you correctly identify the real owner of images you have found on the internet.

PlagiarismDetector: Like the previous two sites, this site is also free, limited to 1,000 words at a time, searches the internet. No sign in is necessary.