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PSC 105: Planning


The Research Process, Part I: Planning


How to Use this Page

Use the green hyperlinks in the text on this page to lead you to the relevant resource(s) for that area of the planning part of the research process.

The first step in the research process is planning. This is an important step and will make your research go much more smoothly. In this step, you will: 

* Brainstorm and narrow your topic: Brainstorming is an excellent way to start the research process and to identify related ideas. Brainstorming can take the form of lists, free-writing, concept mapping, outlines, or even diagrams. Next, you should look for basic background information on your topic to better understand the foundational concepts behind your topic. Credo Reference is a great place to start for this. These steps will help you get an idea of related keywords and can help you define your topic. Once you start researching, you may notice that your topic is too broad or too narrow and then you can continue brainstorming until you are able to adjust it accordingly. Review How To Choose and Narrow Your Topic if you need help with this step. 

* Develop a thesis statement: Thesis statements explain your objective or perspective to the reader. They are very concise statements and the entire paper will refer back to it. It is possible that your statement may evolve as you get deeper into your research, so you need to keep your statement in mind. Stuck on this step? Complete the Thesis Statement Activity

* Identify your information needs: Ask yourself questions about type of information that you need. Do you need to use any particular publications? Specific journal articles? General reference sources? How much information do you need? Which journals or databases are subject related and might have the information you need? Answering these questions will give you an idea of what you can look for when it comes time to do your research. Complete a Research Plan to make sure you stay on track.