Research projects can be intimidating, but it helps to have a plan of action in place. Breaking it down by steps, even if you go back and forth between the steps a few times, can make the process seem much less overwhelming.
To the right is a basic list of the steps involved in a general research project or paper. Click on the steps to get some brief information about what that step entails.
Before starting an assignment, make sure that you have read it through completely and asked your professor for clarification on any parts that may be confusing. Create a "plan of action" or "To Do" list with dates to make the assignment less overwhelming.
A good topic is….
Most topics are so big when they are first chosen that you need to narrow them down by asking a research question to help direct your searching and writing. However, before you can do this, you need to have a general idea about what the topic is and the issues surrounding it. In order to get this basic understanding you will need to do a bit of preliminary research or "presearch"
The best sources of information for presearch are reference materials because they provide a basic overview of a topic. The most used type of reference item is encyclopedias. Some great ideas for getting a basic overview of your topic are:
Click here for a video on finding online reference materials using the library databases.
Developing a research question can make the research process more efficient, by providing a direction for your project. Create a great research question by asking: Who? What? When? Where? Combine the answers to at least one of these questions with your topic to create a thoughtful question.
A good research question...
Create a search strategy to help make your search more efficient.
A search strategy consists of a search formula and identifying places to search based on your information needs.
Use materials to learn about a topic and to write or present about the topic. Use materials in your writing by citing directly using quotation marks, paraphrasing sentences or paragraphs; or by summarizing the entire item. Always make sure to use an in-text citation after each quote, paraphrase, or summary of an item, then have the full citation for the item you used in your Bibliography to avoid plagiarism.
Evaluate each resource that you come across, including websites, by asking the following questions:
Current? Why is this current to my topic?
Relevant? How does this help me answer my question?
Accurate? Does the author or entity support their statements with data or citations? How have you judged it as accurate?
Authority? Who wrote the information? Is the author or entity an expert and qualified to write on this topic? Are they a journalist or an expert in the field?
Purpose? Is this item written for the general public or for scholarly reasons? Do you have full access to the article or is it just the abstract or summary?
This is where you combine your own ideas with what you have learned from the resources/materials you found on your topic to tell the story of the issue or topic. A great way to start this step is to create an outline, using the information you gathered from the resources, of what you would like to write about or present on the topic.
A great resource for students having trouble writing, is our on-campus Tutorial Center.
You must cite the sources that you use to avoid plagiarism. All direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries must be cited. In other words, all ideas or facts taken from some other writer, even though in your own words, must be cited. All creative works are copyrighted material, so it is PLAGIARISM if you use ideas from a resource without citing that resource
For each source collect…
*Not all sources will have all of these elements & some sources may need additional elements, but this should be enough to get you started in Noodletools or to at least be able to track down your source.
Use the library's subscription citation tool, Noodletools, to help you create, organize, and manage citations and bibliographies.
Click here for a video on getting started with Noodletools.
View our Citation Help Library Guide for more information on citing and the different styles