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How to Start the Research Process

A guide for starting the research paper and project process.

What is Research?

Research, in simplest terms, is information seeking.

However, research is not just about finding a piece of information. Instead, we can see research as a thorough examination of a topic. This process includes locating information, reflecting on what you have learned, adapting your ideas, organizing thoughts into a logical order, and then using those sources and ideas to produce a project or come to a decision.

Before you Start...

Find basic information

Exploring your topic and finding background information at the start of a research project can help you identify useful information (i.e. a theme or subtopic to focus on, key concepts, etc.) and will save you time.

This is also a good way to refine your search - to take a broad topic (medieval medicine, for example) and narrow it to something that you can cover in a more meaningful way in your paper (such as, the effect of the Black Death on the development of medicine and medical practices).

This guide covers the beginning stages of research, often referred to as "pre-research." While you might be tempted to begin searching before completing these steps, the pre-research process will save you valuable time and effort.


Stages in the pre-research process