Whether you're looking for information from books, journals, films, even information online, you're always using some form the same four-step process. If you were to diagram this process, it would look something like this:
You'll notice that the four boxes in the above diagram (what we'll call the "steps" of the process from here on out) are arranged in a circle. This is because the research process isn't entirely linear. While one step of the process leads to the next, there is still a lot of back and forth between the steps, and a need to cycle back through earlier steps to refine and improve your searches. You'll always start with a topic selection, which is why it's at the top of the diagram, but, as you conduct research, your research plan may cause you to refocus your topic, or the sources you find may cause you to change your research plan so that you can find new material, or the evaluation of the sources you find may cause you to rethink your topic entirely.
Any time you do a search, you'll likely have to cycle through this process several times before you have everything that you need. The important thing to remember is that this is how it works for everyone. Don't get frustrated, and, if you're stuck, don't hesitate to ask for help.
Now, on to the steps of the process!
Each time you do research, you always start by choosing a topic. The topic is what you want to research; what you want to know more about. It can be something as simple as "Who was Leonardo Da Vinci?", or something complex, like "What role does colonialism play in William Shakespeare's The Tempest?" The topic is the question that you want to answer.
Creating a research plan is the next step of the research process. It starts immediately after you've chosen a topic.
When you create a research plan, you're doing two things:
To help you create you're own research plan, the Library has put together a step-by-step guide on the Creating a Research Plan page.
The next step is to take your research plan and use it to find information about your topic. However, while a research plan helps you get the most out of online catalogues and databases, you also need to know where to look to find what you need. If you need a book, for example, you'll want to look at the Library's Catalogue or in our eBook databases. If you're looking for journal articles, you're better off using one of our journal databases, and so on.
To help you find the resources you need, the Library section of the Marianopolis Website groups resources according to type, so that all the book resources are grouped together, all the journal resources are grouped together, etc. . . . The Library has also created a list of useful sources for information on the Finding sources page of this guide.
The "final" step is the research process is possibly also the trickiest part of the research process. In this step, you need to take the sources of information that you've found and figure out if they are reliable, useful and appropriate for your research.
To help you with evaluate sources, the library has put together the Evaluating Information page in this guide.