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Research Process

Learn to manage research assignments from start to finish, avoid plagiarism, evaluate outside sources, and improve your writing.

Research process

This guide offers information about and resources to support the research process. This page addresses the research process as a whole. Use the links on the blue tabs to learn more about specific aspects of research. If you need any assistance, please feel free to speak with any staff member at the William H. Wiggs Library.

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Research steps

Typical research projects will include these basic steps. Remember, though, that research is not a linear process and you'll probably revisit each stage as you work.

  1. Understand your assignment

    When you first receive an assignment, make sure you know what is expected of you and how you will be graded. If you don't understand something, ask!
  2. Select a topic

    If not assigned a topic, choose something you've found interesting in your course to explore further.
  3. Do background research

    Use textbooks and encyclopedias to get an overview of the topic. Search the library catalog or databases to see what resources are available.
  4. Refine your topic

    Select a specific aspect or element of your original topic to focus on in your assignment. What can you thoroughly cover in this assignment?
  5. Identify keywords

    List the simplest terms that convey your topic.  Then brainstorm synonyms, antonyms, and related concepts to guide your searches.
  6. Find outside sources

    Locate books, articles, videos, and websites that provide high-quality information on your refined topic. Consult LibGuides or a librarian for help. Keep track of everything that might be useful!
  7. Analyze research findings

    Organize your research notes and identify the most important points to include in your final project. How has what you've found affected your main thesis or main idea?
  8. Write, cite, and revise

    Pull everything together as you prepare your paper or project. Correctly cite all input from outside sources to avoid plagiarism. Edit your own work or read your paper aloud to a friend or family member to make sure it's clear. Check that your final project meets the assignment requirements.

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Why research?

Think the research process is just for homework? Mastering these skills can also help you:

prepare for job interviews
become an informed voter
learn about a medical condition
start your own business
plan a vacation
comparison shop
perform home repairs
explore whatever interests you!

Books at JSCC

Books at JSCC

All websites, articles, images, videos, etc., linked on this site are provided for informational purposes only. External content is not maintained by James Sprunt Community College, nor does it represent the views of the College or its employees. Please notify the library staff if you have concerns about linked content. Students are expected to evaluate all web and print resources and to determine their appropriate academic uses. A hyperlink to a resource or article from these LibGuides does not constitute an endorsement of that resource or article by the library.

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