1. Review Assignment: What's the assignment? What are the expectations for your work? Are there any specific parameters that you need to be aware of?
2. Brainstorm: Pick a topic that interests you! Do you have a strong opinion on something? Do you have a personal issue, problem, or pastime that you would like to know more about?
Librarian Tip: The research and writing will go by more quickly if you care about the topic you are researching!
3. Find Background Information: Reading an overview of a topic will allow you to better understand the landscape of what you are researching. This in turn will allow you to narrow in on a specific concept that piques your interest.
Librarian Tip: This process also allows you to find common vocabulary used in the field, which offers you keywords for your resource searching. Make a list of these keywords as you are going.
4. Focus Your Topic: Make sure to keep your work manageable by honing in on a specific thesis statement or question.
Librarian Tip: Remember to stay flexible while picking a thesis statement, if a topic is too broad or too narrow it will be hard to research. So keep in mind - picking your topic is research!
Information is created in different formats and at varying times. The formats are usually dependent on the time in which the information is being produced. This process is sometimes called the Information Cycle or Timeline.
Some forms of information do not adhere to this timeline, but rather can be created or modified at any time (for example: social media posts or online encyclopedias).
For more detailed information on these formats see the TRU (Thompson Rivers University) Libraries Information Cycle page.
For more information about utilizing resources from different time periods see our Primary Sources box.
We are indebted to the VIU (Vancouver Island University) Library Information Cycle page for some of this content.
Research can be overwhelming to undertake when you don’t have a plan. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a few resources below: a cheat sheet of tips for staying focused and a timeline template that you can customize for any research project. NOTE: Make sure you modify this schedule based on your study habits and study strengths/weaknesses. Some people may need more time for reading and less for writing others are just the opposite.