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Research Process

Research Process
Contact: Prof. Monty L. McAdoo, User Education Librarian (Room 231), 814-732-1070

The vast amount of information available makes research a daunting task. This page briefly describes the research process and the purpose of a literature review.

8 Steps to Better Research
The following provide an overview of how to become a more effective researcher.

1. Plan your research.
Become familiar with the topic, review reference lists, skim content, record sources of citations that
seem relevant.

2. Speak with a librarian to identify possible resources.

3. Learn how to effectively search information resources.

4. Retrieve information.

     a. Identify potentially appropriate sources.
     b. Determine how source can be obtained.
     c. When possible, skim material to determine relevance, resisting the urge to start reading.
     d. Retrieve books, articles, and Web sites (not everything should be retrieved!)
     e. Read.

5. Keep track of words, fields, and/or strategies that worked (as well as those that didn't).

6. Use other people’s work (e.g. bibliographies) to identify other possible sources.

7. Make detailed citations for every source you’ve found useful.

8. When taking notes, use your own words.
Anything you didn’t know before you started reading should be properly cited in your final work.

What's a "literature review?"
The main purpose of a literature review is to determine what is known (or not known) about a particular topic. Among other things, a literature review can also help:

  • Develop an understanding of conceptual/theoretical traditions used to study a problem.
  • Generate useful questions for further research.
  • Determine “gaps,” inconsistencies and/or unanswered questions.
  • Identify useful research designs, methods, and/or instruments.
  • Determine the need for replication.
  • What's New: