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Regent University - Library

Library Research and Instruction: Getting Started

This guide provides information on how to get started with research and provides about the Library's Instruction Program

Steps to Doing Research

Below are the five basic steps to creating a great research paper.  Click on the tabs above in the areas you need assistance.

  • Define the problem - choose a broad topic then narrow the topic, and state your topic as a question.  Identify main concepts in your question.  List synonyms for the concepts
  • Select sources - determine range of sources needed
  • Access sources - acquire the sources by searching library catalog to find books, databases for articles or free Internet for web resources
  • Evaluate sources - analyze the resources and select the most appropriate ones to create the product
  • Cite sources - use proper citation style in the bibliography

If you need a print out on a handout for the  5 basic steps to doing a research paper, click on the "Cycle of Research Process" link below.

      Are You Ready to Start?

      Getting started is often viewed as the hardest part of doing research.  However, there are many people available to help you.  First, begin by discussing the requirements of the assignment with your professor and ask for her/his advice for topics. If you're still uncertain, brainstorm topics that have been discussed in class and topics that interest you. Librarians are also ready and able to assist you in choosing a topic.  Please contact a librarian as soon as you are ready to start your research.

      Once you know what your topic will be, define what you are looking for.  This is the thesis statement or research question.  State your topic as a question, then ask yourself the following questions:

      • Does my thesis statement or question attempt to explore a controversial hot topic?
      • Is my thesis too general (broad) ?  Do I need to focus on a more specific (narrower) aspect of my topic?  
      • Is my thesis question directly related to the topic, or is it too subjective - making it a just a personal paper?
      • Does my thesis suggest a structure for the paper?
      • Does my thesis question point to the need for the following to be answered: Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

      Brainstorming can be fun! Ideas are endless and your topic might light the fuel to create great discussions in class. Watch this video to see how a topic can be developed:

      A "Research Topic Diagram" can be very helpful when you are developing your topic ideas to write a research paper.  Take a look at the following example.  You can print off the example and the form to practice developing your research.

      After You Have a Topic

      Try using Summon to begin your search for material.

      To learn about the best reference sources, research databases, web resources and catalogs for your discipline, search the Research Guides.


      Developing Your Ideas

      The Regent University Writing Center offers a wide array of services to help you through the research process: 

      Visit the writing center to sit down with a staff member, or go online and access great tips at:

      Another great online resource is the writing center at Purdue University at: