Skip to Main Content

The Research Process: About the research process

This guide provides information about the research process and links for resources available to you while you're doing research.

1 Pick your topic

""Looking for inspiration?
The resources below list dozens of topics to write about with articles and other resources to support and inform you as get started.

2 Start background research

Background information is like the big picture of your topic. As you find and read background information, you build up your knowledge base AND discover aspects of the topic you might focus on in your paper or speech.


To find background information, explore the resources below. Take notes—write down words or concepts that pop up in the sources you find useful. You can use these terms later in your search for supporting evidence.

3 Choose your focus or argument

Your job at this stage? Brainstorm, focus/narrow your topic. Decide on the argument you want to make.

Example:  ""

Your interest is nutrition. As you do background research, you read about school nutrition and find lots of sources...maybe the topic is too broad? So you dig and then notice articles focusing on vending machines in K-12 schools. Bingo! You could write a paper arguing that vending machines in K-12 schools should stock only healthy food.

You are the best resource for this step, but you're not alone. Get help from a Librarian by chatting online, calling the Tri-C library, or visiting in person.

4 Find supporting evidence

""With your focus or argument identified, find supporting evidence to back it up. Supporting evidence includes:

  • Magazine, newspaper, and journal articles. Find these in library databases like Academic Search Complete.
  • Books. Search the Tri-C Library catalog for print and electronic books.
  • Statistics and other information. Find these on reliable websites. 

Put your notes from step #2 and all the brainstorming from step #3 to use! 

And remember... library resources don't speak in sentences. Pick the most important words from your narrowed topic and type keywords when you search.

Example of a database search terms. The first box contains the word "schools". The second box contains the term "vending machines". The last box contains the word "healthy".

Try the resources listed below. For assistance, contact a Librarian.

5 Share your research

As a Tri-C student, you can download Microsoft® Office free of charge, so whether you need to write a paper in Microsoft® Word or do a PowerPoint presentation, we've got you covered.""

For help with the writing process or creating your presentation, can contact your campus Tutoring department or Writing Center.

NOTE: Always read your assignment carefully for guidelines about what you are required to submit or present.