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Steps in the Research Process

How to do Research

This video will introduce you to the purpose of research and present strategies to successfully begin your research journey.

The Main Idea

Having a strong main idea provides a clear roadmap for you and your audience. Watch the video below to learn how to write effective thesis statements.

Understanding and Communicating Information

The brief video below explores the writing techniques needed to effectively communicate ideas and research material. 

The Seven Steps of the Research Process

Step 1. Identify and Develop Your Topic

  • Ask questions about your topic. What do you know? What do you want to find out?
  • State your topic idea as a question. For example, "What were the economic and social effects of the Industrial Period?"
  • Do lots of pre-reading to get a general sense of your topic and to find commonly used keywords, or "buzz words." Use these words to search in the Library.
  • Use the large search box on the Library homepage. The box is powered by EBSCO Discovery Service, which searches content from many publishers across most all of our databases and collections.  
  • Ask  yourself...are you finding too much information? If so, you  may need to narrow the focus of the topic more. Are you finding too little? You may need to broaden your topic. 

Step 2. Find Background Information

  • Look up the keywords, or "buzz words" in reference encyclopedias and dictionaries. These often provide a great starting point for your research, covering the general scope of your topic.
  • The Library's Credo Reference and Gale eBooks databases are great places to start your background research.
  • Don't forget course textbooks, lecture notes, and assigned readings can also be great sources of background information.

Step 3. Use Library Databases to find Books and Other Media (Audio/Visual)

Step 4. Use Library Databases to find Scholarly Research Journal Articles

Step 5. Use Internet Search Engines to Find Additional Resources

Internet search engines can also provide additional resources of information. Google, and it's branch Google Scholar, are probably the most popular. Google Scholar contains some PDF articles available for free. Many other items on this site are citation only. However, you can link Google Scholar with the Purdue Global Library to see if we have the full text available.

What about Wikipedia? Should you use it? No, not as your main academic source. But, Wikipedia can be used as a springboard to find common ideas, keywords, and references for your topic. Click this link for more information: Can I use Wikipedia?

Step 6. Evaluate Your Sources of Information

Never forget to critically evaluate your sources for accuracy and authority. For more information about how to effectively examine your sources, take a look at the resources below:

Step 7. Cite What You Find (APA Format) 

Never forget that you must give proper credit to your sources and use the information you've gathered effectively and ethically in your paper, project, or assignment. The video below is a brief introduction to APA Style. 

The Library also subscribes to Academic Writer, which has lots of different tools for researching your topic, writing your paper, and citing your sources.