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Research Process

So, you have a research project. This guide will walk you through the research process, from selecting a topic to doing your search and putting it all together.

Is a Google search "research"?

It may surprise you that the answer to that is... no.

Research -- when you're doing it right -- means looking for and synthesizing lots of pieces of information to come up with your answer. If you can get an easy solution with just one or two Google searches, you're not thinking big enough!

That's not to say that doing many Google searches isn't part of the research process... and it is a process. As you practice (i.e. by completing research assignments), you'll start do the different stages intuitively, but if this is unfamiliar to you, take the time to go through each step! Write things out and be really deliberate about how you're tackling this. We promise, it'll make things more straightforward in the long run.

Student ID card mockup For off-campus access to library resources, you're going to need a library barcode! This would normally be printed on the back of your student ID card. You can request just the number online to have this emailed to you.

Steps, Presented in an Artificially Linear Fashion.

Don't be surprised if you end up moving back and forth! Research is an iterative process.

1. Pick a Direction

This won't necessarily be your actual topic yet -- just a general idea.

2. Get Background Info

Build out the big picture and start making connections between ideas.

3. Narrow Your Topic

Select a small piece of that big picture and decide what question you want to ask about it.

As you dig into your research (#5) you might adjust or even change your topic based on what info is available.

4. Identify Your Search Terms

What key words describe your topic?

You may revisit this once you start researching (#5): watch for what other terms and tags your sources use.

5. Looking for Sources

Start looking for sources that help you answer your research question. Keep track of what you find and cite as you go!

6. Write & Revise

One idea should logically flow into the next. Make sure your citations are in order, too.

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