Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENG 1A/ENG 1AEX (Cole/Garcia) - Happiness: The Research Process

Getting Started

Getting Started

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 for this assignment.

The Research Process

The Research Process

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.


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 of 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.

Highly Recommended for Presearching this Topic:  Credo's Topic Page on Happiness.

Or open the database and perform a search for your topic:

  • Credo Reference: a library reference database that provides access to published reference sources for all types of subjects.

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.  Often a research project entails answering one main question (that the answer to will become your thesis) and then many mini questions that you will need to answer before answering your main question or even thinking of your main question.  In this case, where you answer a big question related to happiness and success.  Here are some examples:

  1. What policies/practices support happiness?
    • What are some of the happiest cultures or places to live?
    • What supports happiness?
  2. What is the relationship between money and happiness?
    • Does more money make you happier?
    • What about money can contribute to happiness?
  3. Is happiness the most important quality of a successful life?
    • What makes a successful life or life well lived?
    • What is positive psychology?

Search statements are what you use in the search bar of different tools to search more efficiently. Search statements use the tool's own search mechanisms for an efficient search process.

To create a search statement, identify the main keywords in your research question or mini research question and join them together using the word "AND," then think of alternate words for each of your main concepts. Use your alternate words by swapping them out as needed or just include them by using the word "OR." AND tells the database that you want both of those terms in all of the results and the word OR tells the database that the items can have either word.

  • Examples of Search Statements:
    • success AND happiness
    • Money AND happiness OR wellbeing
    • Laws OR policies OR practices AND happiness OR contentment OR satisfaction

Click here to view a video on creating a search statement.

Now that you have a search statement, you need to think of the best places to use it, this is called creating a strategy.  A search strategy helps you identify places to search based on your information needs.

To determine where to search, think of what types of information you need. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you need the preliminary, general overview type of information that reference items (encyclopedias) found in the library's eReference databases would provide? 
  • Do you need in-depth information that books that you would find in the library catalog would provide?
  • Do you need the narrow information that an article that you would find in the databases provide?
  • Does the information need to be scholarly or popular? Subjective or objective?

Once you have answered these questions, think of what tool to use (eReference, Catalog, Databases, of Open Web).

Often these questions can be answered by your assignment prompt, so make sure that you know what type of sources you are required to use for the assignment.

Click here to view a video on creating a search strategy.

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.

Sources for this Assignment (5 Credible Sources Required, 2 from LPC Library Databases):

Evaluate each resource that you come across, including websites, by asking the following questions:

Current?  Is this current to my topic?

References? Does the source have references to support its content?

Authority?  Does the author or entity support their statements with data or citations?

Appropriateness?  Is the source quality, length, and type appropriate for your needs?

Purpose?  Is this item written for the general public or for scholarly reasons?  Is it overly biased or commercial?

For more information about evaluating resources click here to view a video tutorial.

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…

  1. Author(s) and/or Editor(s).
  2. Date of publication.
  3. Article title.
  4. Publication Title (title of overall item that the article or item was published within).
  5. Publication information; including, edition, volume, pages, & publisher.
  6. URL or database name (if found online).

*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