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The Library Research Process, Step-by-Step

General help to get you started in the research process for your paper or project.

Before You Begin

First, make sure you understand your assignment thoroughly. Is it an argumentative paper, where you will need to choose a side and find evidence to support it? Or is it a literature review or annotated bibliography, where you need to find quality sources and be able to summarize them?

Next, try to come up with different ideas that interest you or to which you can personally relate. This makes the research process much easier and more enjoyable!

Choosing a Topic

Coming up with a topic for your paper can sometimes be the hardest or most frustrating part of the research process. It can be intimidating to have a big task in front of you. Don't worry--just about everyone feels this way at some point! This page has several different tools for brainstorming topics.

It's O.K. to feel uncertain about your topic. That is why we do research: to see what is already out there, and then come to a conclusion or make an argument. It may take several iterations before you settle on a final topic or thesis. That's why it's important to start as early as you can, so that you still have enough time for the searching and exploring stage.

See the Finding and Exploring Your Topic Research Guide for more in-depth help.

Keyword Generator

Try using the University of Texas at Austin's keyword generator to help you search for soures related to your topic, as well as to come up with several different search strategies