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Research Basics: The Research Process

Develop a topic, use the library catalog and databases, evaluate and cite sources.

The Research Process Step by Step

  1. Choose and develop a research topic.
  2. Find information sources in a variety of formats.
  3. Evaluate your sources for relevance, authority, and credibility.
  4. Combine research with prior knowledge to create something new.
  5. Cite your sources according to the assigned bibliographic style.

Research as a Linear Process

We wish we could move straight through the research process from choosing a topic to citing our sources in the finished product.

Linear research process


Research as a Recursive Process

But as we locate, evaluate, and integrate those sources, sometimes we need to repeat steps as we refine our product, making this a recursive process rather than a linear one.

Recursive research process

The Research Process Is Not Linear

Picking Your Topic Is Research! by NCSU Libraries on YouTube

This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.

Open Texts for College Research

Choosing and Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research
Ohio State University Libraries

Introduction to College Research
Butler, W. D., Sargent, A., & Smith, K.

Library 160: Introduction to College-Level Research
Iowa State University Library Instruction Services

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License