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Research Process Demystified @ Pitt

A guide for students beginning the research paper and project process.

The Research Process

As you begin your studies and research papers, note that research is a process. Your experience with the steps outlined below may differ in order and might even repeat as you complete research, papers, and projects. 

You will likely use library resources such as PITTCat+ and library databases to conduct background research, refine your topic, and search for sources. If you have any questions, please be sure to Ask Us!

Research Paper Process

This infographic provides a visual overview of the research process. Keep in mind that it is messy, convoluted, non-linear, and requires persistence.

infographic on the research process. Use the "text version" tab for the plain text.

The Research Paper Process

  • Choose a Topic
    • Understand your assignment parameters, requirements, and due dates
  • Conduct Background Research
    • Search for news articles, top hits on Google, and encyclopedia articles.
  • Refine your Topic
    • Narrow down what you want to investigate. Think about the who, what, when, where, and why for your topic.
  • Create a Research Question
    • Come up with a tentative question you want to answer in your project.
  • Develop a Search Strategy
    • Select your resources and develop your keywords
  • Search
    • Conduct multiple searches in relevant resources
  • Evaluate your Results and Sources
    • Use the CRAAP model: currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and purpose
  • Adjust and/or Repeat your Search
    • Try different keywords, resources, and strategies depending on your needs
  • Start Writing
    • Incorporate your sources into your writing from the beginning
  • Review and Re-Search
    • Fill in the holes, explore new areas of interest, dig deeper, etc.
  • Cite, Review, and Edit
    • Put the final touches on your project

 

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