Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

The Research Process



The quality of your research will improve if you follow the research process:

  1. Understand the specific requirements of the project.
    1. What is the length of the project?
    2. What citation style are you supposed to use?
    3. How many sources are you required to use?
    4. What types of sources are you allowed to use? Are you required to use scholarly journals
      or primary sources?
    5. Are you allowed to use websites?
    6. Are you required to use certain types of information, such as statistics or research
      data?

  2. Conduct background research on your general subject area.
    1. Identify your general subject’s key concepts.
    2. Write down specific aspects of the general subject that are interesting to you.
    3. Prepare a list of related terms and synonyms for the key concepts and interesting
      aspects of your general subject.
    4. Perform searches with your terms in the library catalog, periodical indexes, and on
      the Internet.

  3. Determine the general subject of your research project.

    1. Use reference sources on your general subject area to find aspects of the topic that
      are controversial or need investigation.
    2. Develop a few possible research questions based on what you find in reference
      sources.
    3. Research questions should be one sentence questions that are simple and clear.
    4. Select one of these questions for your essay.

  4. Evaluate your search results.
    1. Use this diagram to break your general subject down into its major parts. Think about the aspects of your general subject that you find most interesting.
    2. Now, you’re ready to write your research question or thesis statement.

      State your topic in the form of a question; that way it’s easier to identify the main
      concepts. (If you aren’t able to narrow your general subject down and successfuly write a research question or thesis statement, you need to refine your search strategy until
      you can.)

    3. Search for background information on your general subject.

      Use this information to identify key concepts and ideas from which you can create a
      list of search terms for the library’s catalog and periodical databases. The Reference
      Collection is a good place to find background information. Some sources that may be
      useful are subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias, statistical abstracts and
      handbooks, chronologies and style guides.
    4. Create a table and list your key terms or main concepts across the top.

      Write synonymous terms under each of the key terms. Databases and catalogs sometimes
      use different terminologies and you need to be ready to try alternative ways to search.