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ENGL 101: Getting Started with Research

Use this guide to help you along your research journey!

Steps of the Research Process

1) Identify your topic: Condense your research question into a thesis or problem statement.

2) Create an outline: You will revise this along the way, but an initial outline will help you clarify your research needs.

3) Develop a search strategy: Brainstorm relevant subjects/keywords and where to look for sources.

4) Find and evaluate sources: Search the library catalog and website for scholarly sources.

5) Working with sources: Take notes on the sources you find to better organize and reference your research.

6) Cite your sources: Use the appropriate citation style to credit ideas used in your paper.


Creating a thesis statement 

Remember: Clarity is key!

  • What “problem” are you trying to solve?  What are you trying to get at?  A succinct thesis statement makes all the difference, not only for your reader, but also for your research needs. It should be debatable and not a statement of fact.  
  • Your thesis is the jumping off point for your paper – it is your interpretation of the subject at hand, not the general subject.
  • The critical thinking and evaluation that goes into writing an annotated bibliography helps you formulate a clear, concise thesis statement. The paper following your thesis should support your argument à stay on topic!!

How to Identify Search Terms

Follow these steps to begin your research project:

  • Identify the topic of your research. 
    • Example: How will global warming affect Louisiana coastal communities? 
    • Narrow your topic. 
  • What are the important concepts or keywords? 
    • Example: How will global warming affect Louisiana coastal communities
  • Think of synonyms for your search terms as well and try them out.  
    • ​​global warming: greenhouse effect, climate change
    • Louisiana: gulf coast, gulf states, Lafourche Parish, New Orleans
    • coastal communities: land loss, erosion, beaches
  • Start with fewer words when doing your initial search.