Research is cyclical in nature.
Stage One of the research process helps you verify need and the information that is needed to successfully write your introduction.
1. Select a topic that has meaning for you. Think of an issue or problem you wish to explore in more depth.
2. Use handbooks and encyclopedias along with textbooks to locate background information. Answers: Who, What, When, Where.
3. Clarify the purpose of your project (will become your thesis)
4. Select which databases best fit your topic and develop list of search terms
Stage Two helps you focus on evidence derived from the research studies you have located. Grouping the search results by research questions helps you organize the Literature Review.
1. Develop thesis. If you think of the thesis as a problem to be explored, then the temptation to write "about" a topic can be kept in check.
2. Search for studies that align with your main ideas.
3. Identify the three or four research questions you want your research to answer in support of your thesis. Focus your searching on these smaller questions and you will have more satisfactory results. Researchers often are looking for one of two things: A cause for a problem (Why) or a solution to a problem (How).
PICO is a model of research used in many professions to identify key research questions:
P = Population (participants, problem, process, point of view, primary event)
I = Intervention (therapy, treatment, causes or etiology, improvement, interpretation, impact)
C = Comparison (Opposing arguments)
O = Outcome (measurement)
Read and think critically to synthesize the collected body of research. Review your purpose, thesis statement, and research questions to see if they need to be modified based on your new understanding of the topic.
Modify and research again as needed to ensure that you have located all key studies related to your thesis.
If you have too many articles, then you may need to narrow your topic. Are there specific populations or situations that you can use to focus your search?
If you need more research, think about your topic more broadly and look for related studies that may not "fit" exactly what you hope to do but support the development of your topic.
Use information ethically... carefully decide what to summarize, what to paraphrase, and what to quote. Remember, only about 10% of the paper should be direct quotes. Provide in-text citations or footnotes and a complete reference list for all content used that is not common knowledge.
If you have questions about your research process, contact your instructor or a librarian.