Honors College

Library Resources for Honors Students at the University of Arkansas

The Research Process

  • The Research Process graphic.Authored by: Kim Louie for Lumen Learning.LicenseCC BY: Attribution
  1. Decide on the topic, or carefully consider the topic that has been assigned.
  2. Narrow the topic in order to narrow search parameters. You often start large and must narrow the focus; you move from general subject, to a more limited topic, to a specific focus or issue.
  3. Do background research, or preliminary research.Begin by figuring out what you know about the topic, and then fill in any gaps you may have on the basics by looking at more general sources. This is a place where searching in library databases, will be most useful.
  4. Create a research question.Once you have narrowed your topic so that is manageable, it is time to generate research questions about your topic. Create thought-provoking, open-ended questions, ones that encourage debate. Decide which question addresses the issue that concerns you—that will be your main research question. Secondary questions will address the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the issue.
  5. Develop a work thesis statement.“Answer” the main research question to create a working thesis statement. The thesis statement is a single sentence that identifies the topic and shows the direction of the paper while simultaneously allowing the reader to glean the writer’s stance on that topic.A working thesis performs four main functions: (1) It narrows the subject to the single point that readers should understand; (2) it names the topic and makes a significant assertion about that topic; (3) it conveys the purpose; (4) it provides a preview of how the essay will be arranged (usually).
  6. Find and evaluate sources, looking for those that will best help you answer your research question and refine your working thesis statement. Use the CRAAP Test to make sure you are using credible and relevant sources.
  7. Create a bibliography as you gather sources. Try using reference management programs like Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote.
  8. Write! Use your thesis statement as a guide to outline, organize, and write your draft. As you go, carefully incorporate quotations and paraphrases from your sources to provide evidence for your arguments. Also make sure you cite in-text all quotations and paraphrases you incorporate.

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