You are here


The research process

Define your topic, gather background information, locate your sources, evaluate your sources, cite your sources 


General guidelines

When you have to write a research essay or a case study analysis, you must first determine the extent of information needed to complete your assignment.  No matter your topic or subject, before you undertake any research you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I know?
  • What do I need to know?
  • How will I find out?*

Answering these questions will give you the opportunity to gauge your own knowledge base on the subject, and to consequently develop an appropriate search strategy. 

Depending on what you already know, you may need to gather some background information on your topic before you can begin your research.  Dictionaries and encyclopedias are two sources that can help you with this process.  For additional background information, you may also want to consult alternative sources of information: experts in the field, family and friends, media sources (if appropriate), etc. 


*Burkhardt, J. M., MacDonald, M. C., & Rathemacher, A. J. (2010). Teaching information literacy: 50 standards-based exercises for college students. Chicago: American Library Association.(page 21)