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Research Essentials

A General Guide to Research: how to research, where to look for sources, how to evaluate work, and where to get research help in the Iona University Libraries.

Introduction to The Research Process

Academic research in college can feel vastly different than other kinds of research you’ve previously engaged in, be that research for an assignment in high school or trying to disprove your friends' claim about aliens building the pyramids.

College research is an iterative process of inquiry. Research questions and research needs evolve as you read. You are learning as you do research, so even your research question could change as you read and develop a deeper understanding of your research topic.

Below is an outline of the research process:

  1. Understand your topic

  1. Find background information about your topic

  1. Develop a research question

  1. Determine the information you need to answer your research question

  1. Identify search tools - including reference sources, books, or specialized databases - where you can find relevant information

  1. Develop keywords and test keywords in your selected search tools

  1. Evaluate search results; consider how this source compliments or contradicts your research question

  1. Begin your writing process: synthesize your sources, outline your paper, and start writing

  1. Repeat any and all steps as needed

Rather than imagining this list as a step-by-step process, this list is instead a neat outline of the messy learning process. You might return to certain steps five times while writing a paper; that does not mean that your research paper is doomed, it means that you are learning.

Research steps adapted from LaGuardia Community College’s Academic Research Basics for Students:

Research Support