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Step by Step: Details of the Research Process

Types of Information

Sources for background reading listed here are "secondary", that is they synthesize existing information. They are not the original or "primary" reasearch.

Learn more about different different types of information:

Selecting Your Topic

  • Most important... choose a topic that is of interest to you
  • Refer to your assignment for ideas and also for clues as to what is expected in your paper
  • Use your textbook to help you get started; it may be more useful than you realized!
  • Start with a broad topic and as you learn more about it through your background reading, it will be easier to narrow it to fit your paramaters
  • Use a Concept Map to help develop your topic. It is simply a visual way of looking at your ideas and how they relate to each other.  Here is one from Penn State that walks you through the steps: Creating a Concept Map

Or watch this 3 minute video from the Douglas College Library to learn how to create your own map:

Need more help on choosing a topic? Look at the OWL Purdue University "Choosing a Topic" Guide

Background Reading

  1. Do background reading to learn more about your topic.
    1. Start with a specialized University Library Research Guide on a variety of topics. These include lists of specialized research tools, what databases might be useful, as well as web sites and other resources.
    2. Use specialized encyclopedias or dictionaries or reference books because they contain valuable background information that might give you ideas on how to narrow a topic, as well as bibliographies that can direct you to other sources on your topic.
    3. Look for a review article on your topic. It will synthesize current research on a topic and lead you to many other sources.

Research Flowchart

  1. Select Topic
    1. Do Background Reading
    2. Narrow/Broaden Search
    3. Create Thesis Statement