28 The Research Process

Research can be a complex and iterative process. Your understanding changes as you move between the steps of finding and evaluating information, which leads you to ask new and better questions.

Repeated questioning improves your research.

  • Explore
  • Search
  • Evaluate your findings
  • Cite
  • Share your thoughts

Step 1: Choose and develop Your Topic

Your topic must meet the requirements outlined in your assignment and ideally, it should be interesting to you. Writing a paper or assignment will be easier if you’re interested in the topic you’re researching.

Select a topic that has good information available. Choosing a topic with too much information or too little information can make your writing challenging. You may need to narrow or broaden your topic, depending on what you find in your search.

Step 2: Finding Information

When working on a research assignment you’ll need to find resources that support your ideas. It is a good idea to do a preliminary search to see if you can find enough information on your topic.

When you’re ready to expand your search and locate sources for your assignment, visit the NSCC Libraries Website or talk to your Campus Library staff. They can help point you in the right direction to find materials for your topic .

NSCC Libraries gives you access to:

  • a library catalogue (search for books, eBooks, and more)
  • streaming video collections
  • over 100 journal and article databases
  • subject guides

There is also a collection of instructional videos on the NSCC Libraries YouTube Channel to help you get started.

STEP 3: Evaluate your information

While you’re collecting materials for your assignment from various sources, it’s important to evaluate if the materials are good quality. Information found in a general internet search can range from being very reliable to not at all reliable. It’s important that you check the quality of the information before you use it in your assignment.

There are several different types of tools to help you evaluate information. Two of the most popular evaluation tools are:

  • CARS (Credible, Accurate, Reasonable, Support)
  • CRAAP (Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose)

You can find information on using these tools in the Research Process Subject Guide.

STEP 4: Cite your sources

As you’re collecting information and materials during the research process, keep track of where you found the information. You must give credit and cite all the sources you use in the creation of your assignment including websites, books, articles, images, audio, video or any other source. If it was created by someone else, you must acknowledge this by giving the author or creator credit. Not citing your sources is considered plagiarism, and is a violation of the NSCC Academic Integrity Policy and can have serious consequences.

Explore the Academic Integrity and APA Citation chapter of this book for more information. The NSCC Libraries APA Style Guide will show you examples of how to cite different types of sources to ensure you are giving proper credit in your assignment or paper. When in doubt, ask you Campus Library staff for help.

STEP 5: Share Your Thoughts

You’re now ready to start sharing your thoughts and research by writing the outline for your assignment or paper!

Extend Your Learning

Watch the What is Research? video from the NSCC Libraries YouTube Channel.



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