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Understanding Research

Learn how to search, identify, evaluate, and utilize academic research.

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The Research Process

The Research Process

The Research Process infographic - contains same text as webpage

Research is a life skill. You use it every day - which smartphone should you buy? What college should you choose?

You apply the same skills in your coursework for papers, presentations, discussion posts, and more. It is crucial to know how to navigate through the research process because details for each step of the research process will vary depending on the topic, available research, and assignment or research goal. The main idea behind each step, however, will always remain the same. 

The Research Process


Choose a Topic

Are there assigned topics? Can you choose your own? What are you interested in or passionate about? How many sources are needed?

Brainstorm Keywords

Think of narrow, broad, related, and similar (synonyms) words that represent the main ideas of your topic or question.

Search in the Databases

Input your keywords in different combinations in the library databases. AND combines different ideas, and OR combines keywords for the same idea.

Evaluate Sources

Once you've found sources on your topic, review the sources to make sure they are objective, accurate, and meet the assignment requirements.

Revise or Refine Your Search

Did you find what you needed? If not, think of more keywords or try different databases to find better sources.

Cite Sources

Once you're happy with your sources, make sure to pull the citation information from the database. Review the citation formatting for any mistakes.

Write and Review

Now that you have your sources, start writing. Remember, you can always go back and find more sources if you need to!

Remember that the research process takes time and effort. You should not expect to complete all of these steps in only a few hours. By thoughtfully approaching your assignment you will be able to pick a reasonable topic, research the topic, and compose an organized piece of scholarly research.

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