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Research Process

Get Started


When you are just starting on a research project, we recommend you follow these steps.

First Steps

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Conduct background research
  3. Refine your topic
  4. Create a research question

In-Depth Research

  1. Develop a search strategy
  2. Search
  3. Collect and organize your citations using online tools to help cite, save, and manage your sources.
  4. Evaluate your results and sources
  5. Adjust and/or repeat your search


  1. Start writing (visit the Start Writing Research Guide for more information)
  2. Review and revisit research
  3. Cite and edit

What is a literature review?


A literature review is a discussion of current published materials in a particular field or topic of study. Understanding what others have written on your topic is important. You can then use those sources to help you explore your research question to better support your final argument.

Assembling and synthesizing those sources is the first step of a literature review, the foundation of your research. A literature review is not an annotated bibliography. In an annotated bibliography, the researcher analyzes individual articles and/or sources, and provides a summary of each item. A literature review synthesizes and evaluates the literature as it relates to the research question and provides a broad overview of the state of research on a particular topic.

You should be able to synthesize and discuss the important studies and themes of the literature before you make your original argument.


How do I organize my sources?


Online tools will help you cite, save, and manage your sources!

  • Zotero - A free online research tool that works with your web browser to collect sources and build your personal library.

Explore more tools here

Organize Your Research