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The Research Process: Step 1

An overview of the Research Process, which includes information about search strategies, how to choose and refine topics, kinds of resources, and citing sources


Download Worksheets (PDF) detailing The Research Process.  To view the file, you will need Acrobat Reader, which you can download for free from Adobe.

Research by Discipline

Research Guides describe and provide access to the most useful resources available through Truxal Library for particular fields of study, including the best databases to use. Use Research Guides to discover and develop research topics within a particular discipline:

Select a General Topic

Research for an assigned paper or other presentation takes a lot of time and effort, so enjoy the process by researching something that holds your interest.

  • Even if your topic is pre-assigned and seems not very interesting at first, try to think of an aspect of the topic that will make the process rewarding for you.
  • Talk to your instructor to see if you can design your own topic (see below for prompts to help you develop a topic).

Write down anything you already know about the topic; try to think of at least three things.

Write down any questions you have about the topic; try to think of at least three questions.

Research Topic Prompts

Below are some questions that might help you construct an interesting research topic. Don’t rush through this part of the process. It’s critical, so spend at least a few minutes thinking carefully about each question.

  • What do you like to do?
  • What do you like to experience (to see, hear, etc.)?
  • What outrages you?
  • What brings you joy?
  • Do you have any professional decisions to make in the near or not-so-near future?
  • Do you have any academic decisions to make?
  • Do you have any personal decisions to make?
  • Do you have any political decisions to make?
  • What about the world do you wish you understood better?
  • What about yourself do you wish you understood better?

Tell your instructors what your interests are, and they may be able to help you fashion Research Topics that both suit your interests and that meet their assignments' requirements. Even when instructors assign Research Topics, they’ll usually work with you to find a way to make research projects interesting for you.

Research Assistance

More ways to get help:

Library photo courtesy of Barry Halkin Photography