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The Research Process

New to college research? This guide gives you an overview of how to get started.

What You Will Learn

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In this guide, you will learn about conducting research using library resources and materials. If you have any questions, ask a librarian!

Steps in the Research Process

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Research is not a straight path...

Research is challenging. You may have to repeat every step in the process a few times. Don't get frustrated if your first topic turns out to be too broad, or if your early searches don't turn up any information. By starting out with a plan, and consulting with a librarian if you start feeling stuck, you can avoid frustration.


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Step 1: Choose Your Topic

Your topic may change as you conduct research. Don't be afraid to explore a number of different avenues before arriving at a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow and will work for your assignment.



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Step 2: Learn about Your Topic

Get a basic understanding of your topic by reading background information. 



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Step 3: Develop Your Search Strategy

Before you start searching for library resources, make sure you know what to search for, where, and how.



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Step 4: Search for Library Resources

Locate scholarly articles and books on your topic. Going through the Library to do this will make your life easier.



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Step 5: Evaluate Each Source

Make sure the sources you find are . . .

  • current
  • relevant to your topic
  • written by an expert author and for a scholarly audience
  • written for the purpose of furthering the scholarly conversation (not for personal or financial gain)
  • contributing new information to your discussion

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Step 6: Cite Your Sources

Give credit to the authors of your sources. Make sure your readers (and you) can locate your sources in their entirety.


Library Lingo

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The process of gathering information that can serve as evidence to back up your statements. Good research may not confirm what you think you know about your topic when you start out.