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Research Process

This guide will help you through the process of research, including picking a topic, focusing you topic, finding keywords, searching library resources, evaluating sources, and citing sources.

Background Research

After you have thought about possible topics, the next step in the research process is to perform some background research about your topic. There are a few different ways to perform this sort of research. At this point, the idea is not to learn everything about your topic, but to gain a foundation of knowledge about it in an effort to start thinking about the angles or ways to focus the topic into a research question.

  1. Type your general topic into Google or your favorite search engine and browse the results. Is there a Wikipedia entry on the topic? Read through that. Are there news stories or websites written about your topic? Take a look at those. 
  2. Type your topic into OneSearch on the library's homepage. Browse the results. Is there a Research Starter on your topic? Read through that. Are there other encyclopedia entries on your topic? 
  3. Talk to people about your topic. What topics are your peers researching? Talk to your professor about possible topics and how you can narrow them. Talk to a librarian about your topic. We may be able to point you to some great resources.

As you read through these types of articles, you can start making lists of possible ways to focus your topic. Since the goal is to learn more about the topic, generally, make sure to read more than one source so you can see different points of view on the topic.