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Writing/Composition: Research Process

Use this guide to help when writing papers.

Creating a Keyword List

To create a Keyword List, start by stating your topic as a "why?" or "how?" question.  Think of significant words or terms that describe your topic, including synonyms and related terms. 

Here are some examples:

Koran / Quran / Qur'an

Lou Gehrig's Disease / Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / ALS

Capital punishment / Death penalty

Revolutionary War / American Revolution

Human trafficking / Sex slave trade

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / PTSD

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome / AIDS / HIV / Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Gathering Background Information

Use these links to find some background information on your topic before you begin your big search:

Broadening and Narrowing Your Topic

The Research Process

Not sure how to start your research?  Follow these steps to begin: 

1. Choose a General Topic - Brainstorm possible topic ideas.  You may find possible topics from classroom discussions, current events, or personal interest.  It helps if you are interested in the topic, as you will be spending a lot of time learning about it. 

2. Create a Keyword List - Make a list of synonyms or other words that are related to your topic and may be good search terms.  In some cases there may be different ways to spell your topic, and you want to include all of them in your keyword list so you don't miss anything. 

3. Start to Gather Background Information - Use general information sources to help you find out basic facts about your topic.  This may also provide you with new keywords or other subtopics within your topic.   

4. Broadening/Narrowing a Topic - Sometimes a topic may be too broad or too narrow, and you will need to adjust it in order to get the correct depth of research you need for your paper or presentation. 

5. Search for Resources - Now that you have narrowed down your topic and have good keywords, you can begin searching for resources using the SRC Online Catalog and SRC Databases. 

6. Evaluate Resources - Not all resources are equally good for you to use.  Make sure you are using the best sources for your paper or presentation that you can find.  See the Evaluate Resources tab for more information. 

7. Based on a Focused Thesis Statement, Accurate Note Taking, and an Organized Outline, Write your Paper - Using correct citations, of course! 

Finding Books

There are a variety of places you can find books on your topic:

How Do I Find a Book Using a Call Number?

Finding Articles

Articles cannot be found on the Library Online Catalog.  You need to look in databases for them. 

Assignments, Step by Step

The Basic Research Process

Review the PowerPoint on Basic Research Strategies that is shown in COM 123.