You and several other group members have been assigned a research project. Where do you begin? How do you begin? How does one make conducting research as easy, and perhaps more importantly as unintimidating as possible? How does one proceed methodically, and avoid a scattershot approach to researching?
If you've wrestled with these questions or others like them, you're not alone. Unlike typing words into Google and finding information of varying quality, conducting research is not a process that is immediately intuitive -- most students have to learn how to understand, get used to, and then conduct university-level research. The good news is that there is a methodological approach to conducting research at this level, and that this approach can be learned and then replicated across every course you take. Furthermore, learning how to research helps you understand how to judge the quality of the information you find, and helps get you more authoritative resources than Google or other free Web search engines typically offer.
The tabs to the left help you understand the research process, and understand how the timeline of when information is published affects its value in informing your own research. They offer assistance in developing a research topic (and honing it into a research question if that is what your coursework asks you to do), identifying search terms based upon that topic, and then direction in selecting search tools to use in conducting your research.
The graphic to the left lists the different stages of the research process. "Research" is a concept with a broad range of definitions. This graphic presupposes an active component, where a researcher does original work in the field (steps 4 and 5). Particularly at the undergraduate level, not all coursework involves such a component -- much of your coursework will ask you to review the literature on your topic, and then discuss, interpret, and add your own thoughts to this material. Coursework of this nature may be considered "research" too, and the graphic can accommodate this form of research in addition to research with an active component. When this happens, omit steps 4 and 5, and instead proceed from step 3 to step 6.
Proceeding step-by-step through each yields the following structure:
Also referred to as the publishing cycle or the information lifecycle, this timeline highlights the different types of media that will report on an event in the different timeframes after the event happens. The elapsed time between an event and the media reporting it has an effect on the type of content and level of analysis that will be present in the reporting documents.