This page walks you through the basic steps of research. Keep in mind that the research process is actually quite messy, and you might find yourself jumping back and forth between the steps listed here. These steps are meant to orient you to the research process, but you do not necessarily have to follow this exact order:
When choosing a topic, keep the following points in mind:
Or, watch this incredibly useful video from North Carolina State University Library on choosing a topic:
When you first get started on a research project, you might not have very much prior knowledge of your topic. In that case, it's a great idea to start with some background information. The most heavily-used reference source in the world is Wikipedia, but as a student you also have access to many other excellent scholarly reference sources.
Time to get down to it! Books will help you get an even better handle on your topic. Books provide more in-depth information than reference sources, but are often much better for background information than journal articles. Keep the following in mind:
Scholarly journals are specialized journals that publish new research on specialized topics. They are written FOR academics, researchers, and students to keep them aware of new developments in the field. They are written, for the most part, BY academics and researchers who are actively involved with the field of study. You can find scholarly articles in databases that the library subscribes to. Make sure to search in subject-specific databases (such as a history database), as well as multidisciplinary databases that include a wider scope of material.
Or, check out this great video from Western Libraries:
Take very careful notes as you read your sources! This will help you trace themes and develop an argument. Check out the following two videos on writing a research paper, and make an appointment at the Dalhousie Writing Centre if you would like assistance with your writing.
Very important! When you use somebody else's words or ideas in your academic papers, you must to give credit to the original source. This is one of the reasons why keeping good notes is so important to the research process.