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Research Process: Getting Started

I have a research project to do, now what? This is a guide that will walk you through the research process, from selecting a topic to putting it all together.

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Julie Gassaway

Natasha Williams

Is a Google search "research"?

It may surprise you that the answer to that is... no.

Research -- when you're doing it right -- means looking for and synthesizing lots of pieces of information to come up with your answer. If you can get an easy solution with just one or two Google searches, you're not thinking big enough!

That's not to say that doing many Google searches isn't part of the research process... and it is process. As you practice (i.e. by completing research assignments), you'll start do the different stages intuitively, but if this is unfamiliar to you, take the time to go through each step! Write things out and be really deliberate about how you're tackling this. We promise, it'll make things more straightforward in the long run.

Step 1: pick a general direction, or overall topic, to start your research.

Step 2: do some light research to learn more about the background of your general topic.

Step 3: narrow your topic down and formulate a question to investigate.

Step 4: formalize a research strategy and identify your keywords.

Step 5: jump into all the research!

Step 6: put it all together and get writing.

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