What is Pre-Search and Why Should I Care?

Why Should I Care?

When you get a not-so-great grade on a paper, it is easy to wish you could go back in time and do things differently. Should you have put more thought into the way you organized your thoughts? Did I mess up the works cited page MLA? Could your sources have been more reliable? Was my Chicago in text citation accurate and credible? One way to mitigate these maddening feelings is to integrate something called pre-search into your writing process.

What is pre-search?

Pre-search is the act of initiating a research paper by first pursuing background information on topic. This may help to make informed decisions and claims around your subject. This first step in the process can be extremely helpful, as it can provide context around your topic as a whole, and can identify sub-topics that you would like to include in your paper. Think of it as a way of activating the background knowledge you already have and then filling in the gaps.

Why should I conduct pre-search?

There are a few reasons why conducting pre-search is a good method for ensuring a quality paper:

  1. Pre-search provides historical and academic context around your ideas. It helps you learn what has already been published and discussed around your topic.
  2. It allows you to make connections between context and your prior knowledge.
  3. It can lead you to develop support for gaps in your claim.
  4. It identifies the areas where you need further research.

Remember, pre-search does not take the place of research. Rather, it is an integral first step into gathering ideas around your chosen paper topic.

No matter where you are in your research process be sure to track and cite your sources using Citation Machine. It has tools to help you create a simple bibliography, an MLA or APA title page, citations in thousands of styles, or even parenthetical citations. Try it today!