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Introduction to Research

How to Use This Guide

Welcome to the Introduction to Research guide!

This guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started on your research projects.

Navigation: You can navigate the guide using the menu on the left side of your screen (or the top of your screen on a mobile device). The tabs are organized sequentially from top to bottom, so you can use the navigation menu to guide you through the research process from beginning to end.

Before you get started: It’s important to keep in mind that:

  • You’re already a researcher! Every time you search the Internet, ask a question, or scan your textbook for information, you’re doing research.
  • Research is a process. This means it’s made up of different steps that gradually build up to a finished research project.
  • The research process described in this guide isn’t always linear. That means you might jump around between the different steps.
  • Research is just as much about asking questions as answering them.
  • When doing research, it’s important to pace yourself. If you try to do too much at once, you might feel overwhelmed.
  • If you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll probably spend a lot less time on your research projects and you’re less likely to experience stress, burnout, and frustration.

The Golden Rule: Regardless of the scope or nature of your research, the most important thing is that you create a realistic plan from the start. Diving into research without a clear plan is a one-way ticket to frustration and burnout. However, following the steps in this guide will help you develop a plan that keeps you on track for any research assignment.

Navigating the Research Process

Research isn’t always linear or predictable, but following these simple steps will help you navigate the research process until you’ve created a system that works best for you.

  1. Discover your topic
    1. Topic exploration
    2. Find background information
    3. Narrow and refine your topic
    4. Generate research questions
  2. Gathering sources
    1. Identifying the right kind of sources
    2. Evaluating sources
    3. Searching the databases
  3. Using sources
    1. How to “read” a source for research
    2. Creating and using citations
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