The Research Process
The research process is the series of steps you perform to gather, analyze, use and record information on your topic. To be efficient and effective, research should not be haphazard, but rather should follow a well thought out and orderly plan. In addition, there are two things to keep in mind when performing research:
1. Do not assume that you will be able to locate "good" information sources in one visit to the Library, or a quick search on the Internet.
2. You should start as early as possible and methodically work through the process until your research is completed.
2. Research requires flexibility.
1. Even the best planned research strategy can reach a few dead ends along the way.
2. If you do reach a dead end, such as not finding enough information, you may need to alter your search strategy or reassess your topic.
There is not one and only one method of obtaining the information that you need. Depending on your research needs, you may modify the process by deleting steps, performing some steps more than once, or making modifications to fit your specific topic. It is important, that you recognize that there are basic steps involved in performing "good" research, and that research is not simply locating a few citations to articles or books in indexes, databases, or the Internet.
The following strategy represents a sample search strategy that you might follow when doing research:
1. Identify and develop your topic -- Ask yourself if your topic is too narrow or too broad.
2. Locate background information on your topic.
3. Develop a thesis statement.
4. Formulate your search query.
5. Analyze your topic -- Ask yourself what subject area your topic is about.
6. Determine what type of information is needed.
7. Consider the time period of your topic.
8. Locate books using the library catalog and other appropriate databases.
9. Locate periodical articles using indexes and databases.
10. Use the Web to find Internet resources.
11. Evaluate the materials that you find.
12. Determine if the information answers the research question. Do additional research if necessary.
13. Record and cite what you found.
14. Write the results of your research.
For more help with the research process go to the Online Library Learning Center on the Library Home page and look at the Unit 2: Starting Your Search.