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Introduction to Research: The Research Process

This guide is to help you with the research process.

What is Research?

Research is the process of searching for and gathering information about a question or concern that you have.  The question you ask can be simple or complex, but in either case you are still doing research.

How do I pick a topic?

A good topic is one that:

  • researchers have written about,
  • meets your assignment requirements,
  • you are interested in,
  • you can come up with questions about,
  • involves multiple viewpoints, and
  • has a scope that is not too broad or narrow.

If you are looking for help thinking up a topic, brainstorming can help.  There are many different ways to brainstorm.


What is the Research Process?

The steps in the research process are to:

  • choose a topic
  • find background information
  • create a research question
  • develop a tentative thesis
  • find out what evidence you need
  • search and find evidence
  • evaluate evidence, and
  • create your paper or presentation

What if I can't find any information?

Here are some tips.

  • Don't panic.
  • Are you getting no results or too many?  You may need to broaden or narrow your topic/research question.
  • Try brainstorming other ways to say the same thing.  Often academic articles use more formal language than we do.  Also, language changes.  What we call something now used to be called something else ten or twenty years ago.