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Library Tips for Peer Writing Tutors

Peer Writing Tutors may use this site to find relevant library resources and to make referrals to librarians.

Steps in the Research Process

Talk with a librarian about your research anytime: go/askus/

When you begin working on a research project, it can be helpful to consider all of the steps in the research process. Record your ideas and keep track of your progress; this ensures that you’ll always know what to do next. Here is one version of the research process. Try it out and see how it works for you!

  1. Select a topic
    • Librarians can help you refine, narrow or broaden a research topic.
  2. Draft a research question
    • ​​Librarians can help you turn your topic into a question (and we can explain why it's helpful to do this).
  3. Brainstorm keywords
    • Librarians can help you think of keywords to jump-start your search.
  4. Search, and revise your search
  5. Find 3-5 useful sources
    • Save publication information and pagination for citations later on.
    • If it’s an article, save or email the full text (if available), and if it’s a book, record the call number and library location. If we don’t own it, request it via Interlibrary Loan.
    • Need scholarly articles? Learn how to distinguish between scholarly and popular sources in this guide: Scholarly vs. Popular (
    • Finding relevant information on websites?  This guide provides tips for savvy use of online news sources:  Internet News, Fact-Checking and Critical Thinking.
    • Librarians can help you find, select and cite sources.
  6. Preview your sources to see how well they answer your question
    • ​​Do you have enough for now, or do you need more?
  7. Revisit your research question
    • ​​Should it be more specific, more broad, or should it focus on a different aspect of the topic?
  8. Brainstorm keywords
  9. Search, and revise your search
  10. Find 3-5 sources
  11. Repeat steps 6-10 until you're ready to start writing!

Talk with a librarian about YOUR research process! Find us at the Research Desk or online at

Research Process Worksheet

Use the Research Process [.doc] worksheet. On the back, there's space to track your progress.