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Research Process: Home

Explains how to find a topic and turn it into a search. Show you how to find, evaluate, use, and cite books and articles for use in your research.

How Much Time Will This Take?

Need help with time management for your research paper?  Try this Research Paper Calculator from Minnesota.  It gives you a timeline for completing the different steps of researching and writing your paper.  

Note: Some of the help screens are state of Minnesota-specific, so contact us about related Assumption resources.

Print Resources

Steps of the Research Process

1. Find background information.  

This is an important first step - reading and interpreting your sources will be difficult and frustrating without the background knowledge.

2. Define your topic.  

Use your background knowledge to define a usable research topic or question.  Keep in mind that your topic may change or evolve throughout the research process - that's okay!

3. Identify keywords. 

Break your research topic or question into short keywords or concepts.  Brainstorm synonyms as well as broader or narrower terms.

4. Find sources. 

Use your identified keywords to search in a library database or internet search engine.  Make use of filters and other search tools to find useful sources more quickly.

5. Evaluate sources.  

Look for clues in your sources to determine if they are relevant and appropriate for your research assignment.    

6. Cite sources.

If you paraphrase or quote a source, you must be sure to cite it.  There are multiple citation styles, each with its own specific rules and guidelines.

Get Help

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Main Desk: 508-767-7135

Research Help: 508-767-7273

Library FAQ's
Answers to the Library's most frequently asked questions.


Meet with a Librarian

Schedule an individual consultation with a research librarian through this link.  A librarian is happy to help you at any point in the research process, from helping you develop a topic for your project, to finding information, to helping with citations.