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Education: Research "The Basics"

Research Process

Research is a process of investigation. An examination of a subject from different points of view. It’s not just a trip to the library to pick up a stack of materials, or choosing the first five hits from a Google search. Research is a hunt for quality information. It is getting to know a subject by reading up on it, reflecting, and playing with ideas.

The key to genuine research is a good research question that addresses a problem calling for analysis. Answering a research question requires that you use information, that is, data as a tool and not as a goal.

Data as a Goal is simply finding everything you can about a topic and explaining what you read.

Data  as a tool is finding out the basics about your topic, identifying a problem or issue related to that topic, and then trying to solve the problem or issue.

Watch this research model. It explains the concepts mentioned above. 

Typical Steps in the Research Process

  1. Select a topic and formulate a research question
  2. Get background information
  3. Refine your search topic
  4. Formulate a thesis statement
  5. Consider your resource options
  6. Select the appropriate resources
  7. Use the resource
  8. Locate your materials
  9. Analyze your materials
  10. Organize and write
  11. Compose your bibliography

Searching Databases

Many students today are successful using computers to search the Internet. But few understand database searching well enough to do it effectively. Worry not, you are about to discover a few things that will help you. 

A database is used for finding citations to articles in periodicals (that is: journals, magazines, newspapers).

  • Most databases give abstracts, or summaries, for each article.
  • Many databases have full text of periodical articles.
  • A research database is an organized collection of information used to identify credible sources. 

Selecting the best research database for your topic is an important step. You need to choose a database that covers your topic, type of publication, as well as the dates you need. You can view and search all our databases from this page.

Here is a video that illustrates how to search a database. 

Narrow Your Topic

Narrow Your Topic

  • Narrow Your Topic
  • Make it more focused 
  • Apply: Who, What, When, Where, How and Why Questions
  • Apply Discipline Specific Context:
  • Use your readings from class or in subject specific encyclopedias to get specific ideas

Review this video on how to NARROW A TOPIC


Additional Example:

Narrow your topic Facebook topics

Narrow your topic Food to Table topics

Components of a Scholarly Article

Boolean Searching Using Keywords

Boolean searches allow you to combine words and phrases using the words AND, OR, NOT (known as Boolean operators) to limit, broaden, or define your search. A good researcher should know how to do a Boolean Search.

In addition to the above Boolean illustration, the videos below are also helpful.