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SWK 256

Starting the Research Process

Starting a research project might be daunting, but when it is broken into simple steps it becomes easier to complete. 

1. Choose a general topic. After you understand the instructions to your research assignment, you must choose a topic. This can be done in several ways including, asking your professor for good ideas, pulling interesting ideas from class readings, or browsing the library's resources (digitally or physically) for the broader subject topic presented by your professor. After deciding if this topic is feasible, move on to step two.

2. Brainstorm. This step can be done several days before starting the research portion of the project. Start to examine your topic from different angles, writing down everything. This is also the time to start thinking about the resources that are required for the project. For example, if your professor requires the use of a video in your research, start thinking about what video topic you are interested in exploring. At the end, prioritize the concepts that you wrote down during your brainstorming session- emphasize those that are most interesting.

3. Compile background information. Start by reading some general information on your topic (think about checking out the encyclopedias and dictionaries in Britannica Academic Edition). In this more general search, you will begin to see specific words, phrases, authors, and books that are regularly associated with your topic. Write these down as they will become useful when you begin to search for resources. 

4. Begin searching the library resources. This process might include some trial and error, especially if you are new to conducting research. Check out the search strategies provided in the tab titled Database Search Strategies to learn more on this process. 


Above information pulled from:

George, M. W. (2008). The elements of library research: What every student needs to know. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.