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Resources for Students in Online and Off-Campus Programs: About Research

Research: Where Do I Start?

chart: choose a topic, explore your topic, narrow to a research question, find sources, select relevant sources (evaluate), repeat as necessary Academic research requires flexibility and diligence. The process involves choosing a topic that is interesting to you and exploring resources that yield more information about your topic. You can follow the simple steps shown in this chart, but don't let it limit you. You can go forward and backwards, and even across the process as you work your way through your research topic.

Start with an idea: 
You may be assigned an idea, or you may come across a topic in your readings or class discussions that interests you. Keep a list of topics to look at later, when you are ready to begin the assignment.

Use broad general resources, or even Google or Wikipedia, to create a list of topic keywords and to help you explore an idea. This step is iterative; as you find out more you may change your search terms or even modify your topic.

Formulate your Question: 
What is it about your topic that you find interesting? Why? If you can answer those questions, you have the main idea you want to research.

Find Sources: 
Use BULS and the other library resources, such as research guides and subject databases, to identify sources on your topic.

Each source you select should contribute to your understanding of and engagement with your topic. Evaluate the reliability and validity of your resources. Your goal is to find resources that are relevant to your topic and answer questions that will enhance your paper and the synthesis of your topic.

Ask for Help: 
Librarians can help you at any stage of this process.

Thanks to Cornell University Library and Jim Morris-Knower for allowing me to use and modify content from for this section.

Video Tutorials

Video Tutorial: Evaluating Sources

Video Tutorial: Understanding Peer Review