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ENGLISH: Academic Inquiry

The Research Process: A Map

Research is not a linear process. Research requires repetition of the same processes--utilizing background information, developing a research question, collecting evidence--in order to eventually define and develop a research question that is significant and manageable.  

(Process chart courtesy of A.Carr, 2011)

From Topic to Research Questions


Learn more about narrowing a topic and developing a research question.

Types of Information Sources and the Cycle of Information

Different types of sources exist. Your research questions will affect the types of sources you'll use. As you watch this video by University of Nevada Las Vegas, Lied Library, consider why, how, and when you'd use these sources in your research:

  • websites, social media
  • newspapers
  • magazine articles
  • journal articles
  • government documents
  • encyclopedias
  • books

Search Strategies

1. Generate a set of terms related to your topic.  These will be the keywords with which you begin searching.

culture                               economy                           literature

language                          business practices         literary analysis        

history                               working class                   literary criticism


2. Combine your keywords

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT and Other Symbols for More Effective Searching

litera* AND (labor OR working class):  Using the AND operater narrows your search to only results that mention both keywords.  Use the OR operator to search for variants or synonyms of the same keyword.  The asterisk (*) is a wildcard symbol that is used to catch variant endings of a word (literature, literary, etc.)

“working class”:  Use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase.


3. In order to get search results more specific to your topic, find the appropriate subject heading. To do this, choose a book from your keyword search in the catalog. Next look in the record under "subject." You should find hyperlinked subject headings like those highlighted to the right.


Working Class Writings, English History And Criticism 

Writing Thesis Statements

Introduction // Purdue Writing Lab

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