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Research Process Overview

The research process typically includes five broad steps. Most often you complete one step before moving onto the next. However, there may be times when you will need to return to a previous step or complete multiple steps simultaneously.

Step 1. Develop a topic
Selecting a Topic | Develop Research Questions | Identify Keywords | Find Background Information | Refine a Topic

Step 2. Locate information
Find Books | Find Videos | Find Articles | Find Websites | Search Strategies

Step 3. Evaluate and analyze information and sources
Evaluate Sources | Primary v Secondary Sources | Types of Periodicals

Step 4. Use, organize, and communicate information
Notetaking | Paraphrasing

Step 5. Complies with legal, ethical and moral standards
Plagiarism | MLA Citation Style | Works Cited ExamplesCopyright

Peer-review? Refereed? Scholarly?

What does it mean when my professor wants me to use "scholarly articles"?

They want you to use articles that go beyond the basic type of information you might get in a newspaper or popular magazine (like, Newsweek or Popular Science).

Scholarly articles are where much of the work of the discipline gets done or directly reported. The types of articles vary as widely as do the disciplines. A scholarly Chemisty article may be a thirty page report detailing everything about an experiment that a group of scientists completed. A scholarly Literature article may be an analysis of a recent novel using a particular theory lens, such as feminist theory.

Scholarly articles are written for an audience that has an educational background in such topics. As such you may find scholarly articles difficult to read. Don't worry, that's part of you learning!

What does "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" mean?

These both refer to the same process that many scholarly articles undergo before publication.

The article is sent out to independent reviewers who critique the article. These reviewers are experts or well-experienced scholars/practioners in the field. They analyze the paper's research quality, it's logical cohesiveness, the accuracy of its theoretical applications. Essentially, these peer reviewers help to make the article the best it can be, to ensure that the research is top notch.

A careful researcher (like you) cares to find the best, peer-reviewed scholarly articles for their research needs.

Want to be double-sure the journal you're using is "peer-reviewed"?

Then search for it in Ulrich's and if you see the referee jersey next to your journal... it is!

Research Consultations

Work with a research librarian to:
  • brainstorm about a paper topic
  • develop a research strategy
  • learn to find and how to use relevant resources.
  • work on any research-related question, problem, or skill.
  • learn about citing in various output styles. 

Hour-long sessions by appointment