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RES104: Introduction to Research Writing: Research Process


Welcome to RES104! This guide includes resources, tips, and strategies for every stage of the research writing process. Use the tabs above to explore all the pages on this guide.

Research process overview

Research Process The research process is generally made up of these key stages. Keep in mind, you may need to go back to certain stages multiple time, or you may approach them in a different way. Research is not always linear – figure out what works for you! Stage 1:  Topic Selection.  Exploring topic through background reading.  Narrowing topic. Forming research question Stage 2: Finding Sources. Come up with a list of keywords. Search article databases, the library catalog, and the internet. Gather sources that help answer your research question. Stage 3: Reading and Filtering. Read sources and take notes on important points. Look for patterns. Identify evidence that answers your research question. Keep track of where your evidence comes from.  Stage 4: Writing. Organize claims and evidence into outline. Form thesis statement – this is the answer to your research question. Write a draft. Use proper citation style. Stage 5: Editing and revising. Have someone else read a draft. Add additional evidence. Adjust argument structure. Check spelling, grammar, and citations. Turn it in!

Narrowing down a topic

How to narrow your topic to something doable

You can't write a 5-7 page paper on the entire Civil War or the history of China. But just how narrow do you have to get? And how do you get there? Check out this guide to help you get where you need to be.

Try out these brainstorming strategies: 1.	Freewriting – Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Think about your topic for a little while and then while your timer runs, write down everything that comes to mind, without worrying about spelling, grammar or structure. Look back over your writing and highlight useful ideas, questions, or insights. 2.	Concept Mapping – Concept maps help you visually organize ideas and make connections. Start by writing your broad topic in the center of a black piece of paper.  Write out related ideas and detail around the central topic. Use lines and arrows to draw connections between ideas.  Add details, sub topics, and questions, as you continue to build your web.  3.	Asking questions – One a black piece of paper, write out the words who, what, when, where, why, and how. For each word, write 2-3 questions beginning with that word. This is a helpful strategy when you don’t have much prior knowledge on your topic.  You can use the questions you wrote to get started finding sources. 4.	Listing – What words pop into your head when you think about your topic? This activity is similar to freewriting, but instead of writing a paragraph, you will instead write a list of words and phrases. Write down as many words or phrases as possible. Your list could include synonyms, places, people, related topics, descriptors, facts, numbers, or whatever else you can think of. Then look over your list and check for patterns or ways to categorize those thoughts.

Tips for the entire research writing process

Process 1

Check out these example research process maps drawn by some of our librarians - no two are exactly the same!