The Research Process
A Research Process
Step by Easy Step
1. Background and Task Definition:
a. Get the background and an overview of the topic: Ask yourself, “What do I already know about this subject?”
b. Task definition: Define the problem – Identify and recognize the need for information, formulate questions based on information needs: Ask yourself, “What more do I want/ need to know?”
c. Develop a research question that you will answer while writing your paper. Use your critical thinking skills to ask How ..? Why ..? What if…?
2. Information Seeking Strategies:
a. Determine the range of sources: Ask yourself, “Where can I look to find sources for this topic – internet, databases, books, encyclopedias, magazines, people I know, …?”
b. Choose several different kinds of information sources. Refer to the assignment or check with your teacher for guidance. Ask yourself, “Does this source help to answer my information needs and inform my research question?”
c. Prioritize your sources: Ask yourself, “Which of these sources will give me the best information in the fastest way?”
3. Location and Access:
a. Locate your resources. Find the sources which you think will help you the most.
b. Find information. Preview the source either to confirm your knowledge or to locate new information on your subject.
c. Ask yourself, “Does this information help to answer my research question?”
d. If yes, record the resource information for access later. If no, discard the source and find a more informative one.
4. Evaluate and Make a Working Bibliography:
a. Evaluate the resources: Use the checklist to determine if the information on the websites is accurate and reliable.
b. Add the good sources to a working bibliography: This will be useful later when you make your Works Cited/Resources list at the end of your research paper. It will also help you quickly retrieve the source when you need to check your sources for accuracy of your information. Include all the information required in the Citation Guides on this site.
5. Engage and Use the Information:
a. Engage: read, and/or view the information carefully making sure you understand it
b. Take careful notes, paraphrase...etc): It is important for you to write the information in your own words to avoid plagiarism. Don’t copy; say it in your own words.
c. If you decide to quote directly from the source, copy it word for word using quotations in your notes; be sure to note the source information as well as the exact page and paragraph of the quoted material.
d. Integrate this information into what you already know about your topic. Go back to your research question and, using your critical thinking and problem solving skills, use the information to answer the question with your new, unique knowledge and understanding gathered from your research.
a. Organize the information into an interesting, well written paper that will keep your reader interested and, most important of all, answer your research question.
b. Present your paper so that it reflects you and all your hard work. Make it neat with clear, tidy handwriting and use the manuscript format adopted by the school. If you have time, type it. Proofread your paper; check for and correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and all the little things that reflect you as a good writer.
a. Judge the product: Ask yourself,
i. “Does this paper truly answer my research question?”
ii. “Is there any place where I copied the ideas of others and did not recognize that source?”
iii. “Are my ideas clear, well stated and straightforward?”
iv. “Does this paper reflect all the time and effort that I put into it?” “Is it worth reading?”
v. “Have I accurately cited all my sources and included them in my Works Cited/Resources page correctly?”
b. Judge the process: Ask yourself,
i. “Did I use sufficient resources to inform my paper well?”
ii. “Were the sources that I used the best, most accurate and most reliable that I could find?”
iii. “Did I meet all the deadlines?”
iv. “Have I integrated the new information well into my paper so that it shows my real understanding of the topic and my research question?”
v. “Have I fulfilled the assignment to the best of my ability?”
Instructors expect work submitted to them to represent the student’s own efforts and reflect the outcomes of his/her learning.
Plagiarism is theft. When you use the ideas and words of another person without giving that person credit, then you are plagiarizing. If what you write in a school project does not come from your own head, or your own experimentation, or from common knowledge, you are probably plagiarizing.
To avoid plagiarism, always cite your source when you:
quote someone directly,
paraphrase someone, or
summarize someone else’s ideas.
Just because you reword someone else’s ideas doesn’t make those ideas your own. To be on the safe side, always cite your sources, even though you seem to be overdoing it.
As well, quoting from your own previously submitted or published work without citing it is also considered plagiarism – self-plagiarism.
For guidelines on citing sources, see your librarian for help and handouts covering the MLA and APA guides to bibliographies and in-text citations.