This guide to the basic research process outlines a simple but effective approach to finding information. It is based on the resources described elsewhere in this subject guide and on the UC Library web site. Depending on your topic and your level of study, you may need to rearrange or review these steps where necessary
Check the rest of this subject guide carefully for additional subject resources and, where available, appropriate topic guides
1. Define your topic
It may seem obvious, but the first step is to make sure you understand the topic. Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question to help you define your topic and develop a search strategy
2. Gather background information
Use relevant reference materials (e.g. encyclopedias and dictionaries) to find definitions and background information. Articles from specialized subject encyclopedias are authoritative and often substantial
3. Find books
4. Find journal articles
The catalogue lists the print and electronic titles of journals held by the Library. To find articles on your specific topic you can search the recommended databases for your subject.
5. Find information on the web
The Internet can be a rich source of information but not everything will be useful or appropriate for research use. Web resources should be carefully evaluated and used in conjunction with the scholarly resources provided by the Library. Use the Advanced search features of Google or Google Scholar to restrict your search to search results from reputable sources.
6. Evaluate your sources
References recommended on reading lists will already have been evaluated for quality. You will need to evaluate sources that you find yourself. Think critically about the information you find. The quality of your information will help to determine the quality of your assignment.
7. Cite your sources
Avoid plagiarism by citing all the sources of information you use in your assignments. Always check with your lecturer/supervisor for their preferred citation style.
8. Write your assignment
See the page in this guide on books on Writing & Communications in the Sciences for books with useful hints on writing your assignments. Don't leave this to the last minute