American History: The Research Process

Lesson 1: The Research Process Graphic Organizer


Lesson 1: The Research Process


The research process is a method used to effectively find resources for a research project. Because research is a process, you may need to repeat some steps throughout your research to produce the best work.  

Step 1: Choose your topic

Choose a topic that interests you.  Ask your instructor or a librarian for suggestions, read magazines or newspapers for current event ideas, or browse your course textbook for ideas. 

Step 2:  Perform background research

Look for basic information on your topic.  Search a few key words in resources like databases, the library catalog, the Internet, or encyclopedias.  

Step 3: Develop a research question

A research question is your research topic in question form.  Every idea you put in your research project will help answer your research question.  

Step 4: Identify resources

You will find more resources than you could ever use.  You will need to carefully review the resources to decide which ones are appropriate for an academic project.  Be sure to ask your instructor what kinds of sources you should use for your research (e.g. journals, newspapers, interviews, books, etc.).

Step 5: Collect research and analyze results

Read and review your sources to decide which ones are the most relevant. Take notes, annotate the texts, decide what information you will summarize, paraphrase, or quote.  

Step 6: Evaluate research question due to new information

After you have read about your topic, you may realize that your research question needs revised.  Talk to your instructor or a librarian if you need some advice on how to change your research question.

Step 7: Collect more research and analyze results

Continue to read and review more sources to answer your research question.  Continue to take notes, choose information to include in your project, and begin to organize the structure of your research project.

Step 8: Synthesize research

Organize your research and decide where in your project you want to use the information from your sources.  

Step 9: Express findings

Begin to write your paper, prepare your presentation, or answer the discussion questions.  Talk to your instructor, librarians, the writing center, and your peers for ideas to help improve your work.

Next: Language of the Research Process

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