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Academic Research Basics for Students: What is Academic Research? How do I do it?

Academic Research vs. Finding Day-to-Day Information

Doing academic research is different from looking for information to solve problems and questions that come up in everyday life. On any given day we might need to solve questions like: What's the fastest way to get to Grand Central Terminal? How big is Central Park? What's the weather going to be like tomorrow?, etc. It's usually quite easy to find the information to answer these kind of questions through a simple Google search.

Research Process

There are many ways to approach the research process. As you gain experience doing research assignments you will gradually develop a process that works best for you. In the mean time, you might want to look at the steps below, which represent one way you can organize your research process.

  1. Understand your topic.
  2. Find Background information about your topic
  3. Develop a research question.
  4. Determine data/information needed to answer your research question.
  5. Identify search tools (like article databases) to find your information/data..
  6. Evaluate which search results are most appropriate/relevant.
  7. Analyze and synthesize the data/information you've selected (KEEP NOTES)
  8. Outline how you will address your research question.
  9. Write draft of paper integrating your analysis, recommendations, and conclusions.
  10. Repeat 4, 5, 6, 7 as needed.


Books on Research

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