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10 Steps of the Research Process

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Before you get started:

  • Choose a topic that is interesting to you and relevant to your coursework.
  • Give yourself as much time as possible to get the work done.
  • Save your work often so you don’t lose anything.
  • Use organization tools (research logs or graphic organizers) to keep track of your work.
    • Many of our databases also have the option of creating an account to save articles and searches.

Step 1 – Formulate Your Question 

  • Your research may start as a general idea or a specific question, statement or thesis.
  • Know what you want to focus on before you begin.

Step 2 – Get Background Information

  • Read about your topic using websites or encyclopedias.
  • It introduces you to the topic, helps you to focus on its key elements and can help you decide to broaden or narrow your focus.
  • These sources often include bibliographies that you can “piggyback” to find more sources on your topic.

Step 3 – Focus and Refine Your Topic

  • Think about how you want to explore the topic.
  • Ask yourself:
    • Is my research intended for a general group or class or is it more specialized? 
    • Can or should I limit my topic by time period or place?

Step 4 – Research Tools

  • You need the right tool for the job. Using our research guides can help you find these answers.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What types of materials do I need? 
    • How recent should my materials be? 
    • How long do I have to do my research? 
    • What subjects are covered by my topic?  

Step 5 – Select Your Tool and Begin

  • Use the library’s resources to find journal articles, eBooks and videos.
  • Use our library catalog to find books or DVDs.
  • If you are using websites, make sure they are quality resources – not just the first result!

Step 6 – Get Stuck, Get Help!

  • Never fear, we are here to help you with your research questions!
  • Stop by, call: 827-2434 or email: libraryhelp@trocaire.edu.

Step 7 – Gather Your Materials

  • Are your best resources books, journals or websites?
  • Does the Library have the book or article or will you have to borrow it from ILL or AcademicSHARE?
    • Remember that you have a deadline and that getting all of your materials may take some time.

Step 8 – Evaluate Your Resources

  • You may be overwhelmed by the amount of information you find.
  • To find “good” resources for your paper, you must analyze and carefully select them.
    • Journal articles have gone through peer-review before being published.
    • Books are also edited before publication.
    • Use the CRAAP test for website evaluation.

Step 9 – Stay organized 

  • Give yourself enough time to conduct your research, so you can understand your topic enough to write effectively on it.
  • Keep track of your research so you don’t have to scramble to find it later.

Step 10 – Write and Review Your Paper

  • Make sure your paper is formatted correctly – APA, MLA or another style an instructor requires.
  • Check to make sure all of your sources have been cited and your research is properly listed at the end of your paper.