Research Process Overview

The Research Process: How Do I Do This?

You will find an excellent description of the research process at Provided by Cambridge Rindge & Latin  School (Cambridge, MA), this page - called "Basic Steps in the Research Process"  - offers a clear strategy for creating a research paper.

A similar process is outlined below:

 1 Task Definition  
1.1     Identify the purpose of the research    
                        • Clarify the assignment parameters    

                        • Choose a broad topic of interest    
                        • Discuss the choice with your teacher   

1.2     Establish prior knowledge    
                         • Brainstorm ideas and information about the identified topic  
                          • Identify broad information resources appropriate to the topic 
                         • Relate all prior knowledge to the topic    

1.3     Formulate the essential question or hypothesis   
                         • Identify the purpose of the research by focusing on a specific question to be answered, thus narrowing the topic
1.4     Determine the audience for whom the paper is intended   
2  Information Seeking Strategies  
2.1    Identify keywords    
                         • Define keywords and/or phrases related to the essential question    

2.2    Develop a search strategy    
                         • Identify possible sources    
                         • Explore previously identified resources    
2.3    Scan resources for usefulness    

2.4     Revise or define essential question if necessary    

3        Location and Access  
3.1     Locate information resources 
                         • Use the library media resources, including the consulting skills of the library media specialist                     
                         • Explore other resources from the public libraries, community, home, experts, online computer searches, etc.
3.2      Access Information    

                         • Use a predetermined search strategy to access the information     
                         • Use appropriate tools, such as print and electronic indexes, search  engines, and online catalogs     

4 Information Use  

4.1      Engage and evaluate the information    

                        • Read, view, or listen to sources    

                        •Evaluate the relevance of the information 
                        •Evaluate the information for the motive, point-of-view, bias, authority, and intended audience

                        •Distinguish among fact, non-fact, opinion, and propaganda    
4.2       Make Working Bibliography Cards  
4.3       Make Note Cards
5          Synthesis  
5.1       Organize information for application    
                     • Synthesize information    
                     • Develop a thesis statement that answers your essential question     
                     • Select appropriate organizational style: chronological argumentative position, order of importance, problem-solving, etc.     
                     • Organize your note cards    
5.2      Write a sentence or topic outline with your thesis statement 
                      • Use your outline to evaluate the notes you have and determine areas of your research which still need further exploration                  
6        The Writing Stage  
6.1     Draft first copy    
6.2     Revise the first copy by
                     • Rethinking    
                     • Reworking ideas, wording, and/or organization   
                     • Conferencing    
                     • Editing (correcting sentence structure, usage, and such  mechanics as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization)   
                     • Proofreading    

7       Publishing Stage  
7.1      Prepare research paper in correct manuscript form including:
                     • Title page (see page for sample layout)    
                     • Outline with thesis statement    

                      • First draft (if required)    
                     • Final draft (with proper citation)    

                     • Appendix (as appropriate)    
                     • Works Cited    

7.2       Present Final Copy    

8          Evaluation  
8.1       Evaluate the final presentation/project/product   
                     • Determine if the assignment was completed as instructed  
                     • Determine if the essential question was answered   
                     • Determine if the thesis was sufficiently supported   
8.2       Evaluate the process of investigation and inquiry   
                     • Evaluate time management    
                     • Evaluate each step of the process to determine where improvement is needed