Steps in the Research Process
Throughout your research, please feel free to ask for assistance from a librarian; we are here to help you.
Select a topic
- When choosing a topic here are some things you might wish to consider:
- When is the assignment or paper due?
- What are the parameters of the assignment or paper?
- Are there requirements on the number of pages?
- How many and what type of resources are required?
- What do you already know about the topic?
- What issues have you been reading and talking about in class? Do any of these things interest you enough to warrant further investigation?
- What issues haven't been covered in the course, but seem related and are of interest to you?
- Are the number and types of required resources available or accessible at Bowdoin within your timeframe?
Locate background information and refine topic
- Locate and begin to review sources (such as subject encyclopedias, yearbooks, handbooks, or reliable web resources) that provide background information, facts and bibliographies.
- Research Guides by Subject are a good starting point for finding resources
- Identify the key concepts, themes, questions, or issues associated with this topic.
- Brainstorm and collect alternate, related, broader or narrower terms to be used in your searches.
- Try searching the library catalog and one or two indexes. Is the number of relevant articles and/or books sufficient to continue with your topic? If not, refine your topic; consider narrowing or broadening the scope of it.
- Begin to formulate a preliminary research question or topic.
Search for books, articles, and other material
- Refine your research question or topic as necessary based on the information you find.
- Materials not immediately available at Bowdoin may be available through one of our lending partners.
Synthesize the ideas and concepts from the sources you have collected
Repeat steps as necessary
- You may find leads to new facets to your topic or new questions to be answered.