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"Presearch is an important and often neglected stage when searchers initiate a research project or pursue an information need. The Presearch stage enables searchers to make a connection between their topic, question, or information need and their prior knowledge. Searchers may begin by brainstorming a web or questions that focus on what they know about their topic and what they want to know. This process may require them to engage in exploratory searching through general sources to develop a broad overview of their topic and explore the relationships among subtopics. Presearch provides searchers with strategies to narrow their focus and develop specific questions or define information needs" (Pappas & Tepe, 1997).

Note. Pathways to Knowledge (, by M.L. Pappas and A.E. Tepe, 1997, is used with permission from Follett Software Company. Copyright by Follett Software Company, 1391 Corporate Drive, McHenry, Illinois 60050.

Checklist of Observable Behaviors

Establishing my focus

A. Develop an overview

___ 1. Building background information

___ 2. Exploring general sources of information

___ 3. Relating information to prior knowledge

___ 4. Formulating initial questions

___ 5. Identifying keywords

___ 6. Brainstorming ideas and information about a topic

B. Explore relationships

___ 1. Relating topics and concepts through webbing, outlining, clustering, etc.

___ 2. Narrowing or broadening a topic

___ 3. Developing specific research questions

___ 4. Defining information needs

___ 5. Following procedures for using information technologies and facilities

___ 6. Seeking help from appropriate sources when needed

___ 7. Evaluating the outcome of Presearch


           Pappas, M.L., & Tepe, A.E. (1997).  Pathways to knowledge: Follett's Information Skills Model  (3rd ed.).  McHenry, IL: Follett Software.  Available:


High school students have been discussing the main trends in American literature. The students each select one of the trends they have identified as the topic of a research report. They gather much information about this trend from their textbook; however, they need to find examples of this type of literature. The school library media specialist introduces the students to a variety of sources (both print and electronic) to help them identify a number of pieces of American literature from specific periods. Students learn how to narrow or broaden their search on CD-ROMs and discuss keywords to look for as they explore print and electronic sources. At the end of the class period, the teacher and school library media specialist help students to assess the usefulness of the sources they have explored and define their need for further examples to illustrate their chosen literature trend.