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Academic Research

This guide will show you how to conduct scholarly research using resources at the Sacramento State University Library and online.

Research Overview

The purpose of the research paper is to argue that a thesis is correct using evidence. 

Simplified Research Process

  1. All research starts with a research question: what do you want to prove? Once you have your research question, you will attempt to answer it with your thesis statement. As you continue your research, you will learn new things and your thesis might change. 
  2. Next, you must gather evidence to support your thesis. In order to have a sense of the conversation around your topic, you should also be aware of evidence that appears to contradict your thesis. Evidence can come from anywhere: the University Library, the open Web, data you gather yourself in a study, etc. Refer to the evaluating resources tab in this guide for help determining whether a piece of evidence is valuable for supporting your thesis. 
  3. The research process is iterative. This means that as you conduct research and write, you will learn new things which will inform further research and may even change your research question and thesis. Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, it is completely okay to alter your research question and thesis during the research process. 
  4. If you need writing assistance, you can find resources in the writing and citing tab of this guide. 

The Research Process. This graphic shows the iterative nature of the research process. First, you have your research question: what do you want to prove? Then you will create a thesis statement. Next, develop your search strategy, both the resources and search terms you will use. Next, search for and evaluate evidence. Next, determine whether you are able to prove your thesis. If you are able to prove your thesis, write and/or present your ideas. If you are not able to prove your thesis, continue to develop your search strategy and search for and evaluate evidence until you are able to prove your thesis.

Graphic created by Sarah Davis

Example 1

Example 1:

Research Question: Why does it take so long for Odysseus to return home?

Thesis: In Homer's The Odyssey, it takes Odysseus ten years to return home after the war because he disrespects the gods. 

Keywords: Odysseus, return home, long time, delay, nostos, journey, disobedience OR disobey


  • Odysseus disrespects Poseidon by stealing his son Polyphemus' food, blinding him, and then boasting about it (book 9). Poseidon responds by creating numerous delays for Odysseys. 
  • Odysseus' men, whom he is responsible for, open the bag of winds from Aeolus, which would have sped up their journey, and eat the cattle of Helios, who then convinces Zeus to sink Odysseus' ship for this act.
  • " Reinhardt's view is angry because the hero has arrogated to himself a divine mandate never given him: the god turns away from Odysseus' sacrifice because he does not approve of the execution of a sentence made falsely in his name" (Friedrich).

Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles, Viking, 1996.

Friedrich, Rainer. “The Hybris of Odysseus.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 111, 1991, pp. 16–28.

Example 2

Example 2:

Research Question: How can the rate of homelessness in Sacramento be reduced?

Thesis: The rate of homelessness in Sacramento would be reduced by increasing funding.

Keywords: Homeless OR homelessness; Sacramento; reduce OR reduction; solutions


  • "Although homelessness has fallen almost continuously since 2007, about 1.5 million Americans use a shelter in a given year" (Katel).
  • "[Mayor Darrell Steinberg] mentioned some projects that would benefit from the fund: "'adding more homeless shelters and building 2,000 housing units for the homeless'" (Lillis).
  • (Evidence against) Providing additional funding did not help the homelessness rate in Los Angeles (Bellman). 

Reference List

Bellman, J. (2018, February 22). Homelessness is much harder to fix than we're pretending. The Sacramento Bee.

Katel, P. (2014). Housing the homeless: Can new government policies end homelessness? CQ Researcher, 24(36).

Lillis, R. (2019, January 18). Steinberg envisions big fund from possible sales tax hike - mayor would aid affordable housing, arts and culture. The Sacramento Bee.

Guide Credit

This guide was created by Sarah Davis in 2018.

Last Updated: Apr 4, 2024 4:00 PM