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Thesis & Research Papers: Research Process

Help for Junior Students doing English III Thesis (including Honors III) : Research, Citation, Plagiarism, Writing, Forming Arguments, Etc.

The Research Process - Visualized

1. Plan - Research Process

Make a  PLAN: 

The questions you ask and answer before you start searching:

Questions like: What am I looking for? Where should I look for it? How should I look for it ? What do I already think I know... etc.

2. Search - Research Process

SEARCH for something:

Searching is actively looking for new information.  The goal is to Find answers to your research questions.  Sometimes a search identifies that information exists, but you many need to  take additional steps to Acquire the source. Once acquired, Keep the information Found by taking notes and adding it to a bibliography.



You can also Find information without searching, or find new and useful information that wasn’t what you were searching for.  We call this Serendipity.   

If your search doesn’t satisfy your information need, make adjustments or a new plan, and Re-Search...


3. Evaluate - Research Process

EVALUATE Everything...

Evaluate  information constantly, carefully, and critically:  Who made it? When? Why? What bias? What purpose? Where’s it from? How is it useful to you? How do you know?  What do you think it means? What does it actually mean?  How does it change what you thought you knew? How does your perspective affect your interpretation...   These are the kind of questions to ask.

A Note on NOTES: 

Take notes throughout the process, not just when you use information, but also how you will use it, and how you found it,  and what you plan to do next, etc.  Add sources to your bibliography as you find them (not at the end): it helps keep found things found. Organize ideas in an outline.


4. Re-Search - Research Process

ReSEARCH means to search again:

It is not a linear process. You will continually go back and do new searches when...

  • an initial search comes up without good results,  
  • you find new information to search with,
  • you uncover new gaps in your knowledge or new gaps in your evidence, 
  • you discover new arguments you need to make,
  • you need more context or background to understand something,
  • etc.

5. Read - Research Process

READ for Knowldedge:

If you've had a successful search, all you have is information, which is not enough;  you have to turn that information into knowledge by reading it. Reading your sources thoroughly, rather than cherry-picking quotes or data, provides context.  Reading your sources also usually leads to Finding new information.

If you don’t understand what you have read, read it again, or go back and do more research to help you.

6. Use - Research Process

USE your New Knowledge:

  • Support an argument with evidence,
  • Analyze / Interpret / Compare / Contrast the knowledge with other knowledge or information,  
  • Build an outline of your argument or project, 
  • Plan a new search based off of your new knowledge,
  • Acquire a new source you found in your source’s Works Cited, etc.

7. Create (Write) - Research Process

CREATE to Communicate your Knowledge:

Write, Script, Film, Draw, Code, Paint, Build, etc.     While you write you will discover additional information needs, which will start the Research Process again...