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Ask-a-Librarian: The Research Process - Text only

The research process

  • Understand the assignment.
  • ​Set deadlines for every step.
  • Identify and develop your topic.
  • Find background information.
    • Read articles in subject encyclopedias to get an overview. 
  • Develop keywords and search terms.
    • Break your topic down into the most important concepts. 
  • Add words and phrases that you commonly see.
  • Use a thesaurus to find synonyms and other terms.
  • Use the library catalog and individual databases to find books, eBooks, periodical articles and other sources.
  • Analyze and organize your information.
    • Narrow or broaden your search.
    • Weed out irrelevant information.
  • Write a rough draft.
    • Locate additional information to fill in the gaps
  • Cite your sources in a standard format.
  • Prepare the final version and proofread for logic, flow, spelling, and grammar.
  • Get help - with your writing - with your research.
  • Repeat any step as needed!

Keep in mind

  • Work from the general to the specific.
  • Stay organized to save time and frustration.
  • Keep track of what you find and where you found it.
  • Better to gather more sources than you'll actually end up citing.
  • Notice what's on the screen! Read it!  
    • Library search engines and databases include useful tools, such as:
      • Citation, email, saving, printing, translation, and more..
    • Library search engines and databases provide multiple ways to filter your results, such as:
      • By format, subject, date range of publication, peer-reviewed articles, and more.
  • Need help? Ask a librarian.