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Fullerton College Library

A General Research Guide

Getting Started With Research @ FC Library


The Research Process

Plan to conduct research in an iterative rather than a linear fashion. Arrows that move in both directions mean you will go back and forth between stages until you have gathered enough relevant and useful information to move on. Though it may be tempting, do not start by writing your paper (adding to the conversation) and then gathering sources to support your claims. Hold back from drawing conclusions until you have considered multiple perspectives, including those that challenge your own.

question and plan, gather information, review literature, synthesize information, add to the conversation


Question & Plan

Continually ask questions during the research process. What is the dialog and debate related to the topic you want to investigate? What problems need to be solved? What decisions need to be made? Your questions will determine the type of information you seek and the keywords you use to search for relevant information.

Gather Information

Search for and gather reliable and relevant information to reach an informed answer to your research question(s). You may have strong opinions or beliefs before you begin searching for sources, but be willing to challenge those assumptions. Seek information from different source types and multiple perspectives, especially those with views opposing your own. 

Review Literature

Digest and analyze the information you have gathered. Look for connections among sources. What information is missing? These questions will take you back to the gathering or questioning and planning stages until you have sufficient information to answer your question(s).

Synthesize Information

Draw conclusions based on the information gathered. If you start your research with a thesis statement (the answer to a research question), test the validity of this statement by looking for information that will disprove and prove your claim. 

Add to the Conversation 

Contribute to the dialog and debate surrounding your topic of investigation by writing a research paper or taking action on your informed decision.