Basic Steps in the Research Process

The following steps outline a simple and effective strategy for writing a research paper. Depending on your familiarity with the topic and the challenges you encounter along the way, you may need to rearrange these steps.

Step 1: Identify and develop your topic

Selecting a topic can be the most challenging part of a research assignment. Since this is the very first step in writing a paper, it is vital that it be done correctly. Here are some tips for selecting a topic:

  • Select a topic within the parameters set by the assignment. Many times your instructor will give you clear guidelines as to what you can and cannot write about. Failure to work within these guidelines may result in your proposed paper being deemed unacceptable by your instructor.
  • Select a topic of personal interest to you and learn more about it. The research for and writing of a paper will be more enjoyable if you are writing about something that you find interesting.
  • Select a topic for which you can find a manageable amount of information. Do a preliminary search of information sources to determine whether existing sources will meet your needs. If you find too much information, you may need to narrow your topic; if you find too little, you may need to broaden your topic.
  • Be original. Your instructor reads hundreds of research papers every year, and many of them are on the same topics (topics in the news at the time, controversial issues, subjects for which there is ample and easily accessed information). Stand out from your classmates by selecting an interesting and off-the-beaten-path topic.
  • Still can't come up with a topic to write about? See your instructor for advice.

Once you have identified your topic, it may help to state it as a question. For example, if you are interested in finding out about the epidemic of obesity in the American population, you might pose the question "What are the causes of obesity in America ?" By posing your subject as a question you can more easily identify the main concepts or keywords to be used in your research.

Step 2 : Do a preliminary search for information

Before beginning your research in earnest, do a preliminary search to determine whether there is enough information out there for your needs and to set the context of your research. Look up your keywords in the appropriate titles in the library's Reference collection (such as encyclopedias and dictionaries) and in other sources such as our catalog of books, periodical databases, and Internet search engines. Additional background information may be found in your lecture notes, textbooks, and reserve readings. You may find it necessary to adjust the focus of your topic in light of the resources available to you.

Step 3: Locate materials

With the direction of your research now clear to you, you can begin locating material on your topic. There are a number of places you can look for information:

If you are looking for books, do a subject search in One Search . A Keyword search can be performed if the subject search doesn't yield enough information. Print or write down the citation information (author, title,etc.) and the location (call number and collection) of the item(s). Note the circulation status. When you locate the book on the shelf, look at the books located nearby; similar items are always shelved in the same area. The Aleph catalog also indexes the library's audio-visual holdings.

Use the library's  electronic periodical databases  to find magazine and newspaper articles. Choose the databases and formats best suited to your particular topic; ask at the librarian at the Reference Desk if you need help figuring out which database best meets your needs. Many of the articles in the databases are available in full-text format.

Use search engines ( Google ,  Yahoo , etc.) and subject directories to locate materials on the Internet. Check the  Internet Resources  section of the NHCC Library web site for helpful subject links.

Step 4: Evaluate your sources

See the  CARS Checklist for Information Quality   for tips on evaluating the authority and quality of the information you have located. Your instructor expects that you will provide credible, truthful, and reliable information and you have every right to expect that the sources you use are providing the same. This step is especially important when using Internet resources, many of which are regarded as less than reliable.

Step 5: Make notes

Consult the resources you have chosen and note the information that will be useful in your paper. Be sure to document all the sources you consult, even if you there is a chance you may not use that particular source. The author, title, publisher, URL, and other information will be needed later when creating a bibliography.

Step 6: Write your paper

Begin by organizing the information you have collected. The next step is the rough draft, wherein you get your ideas on paper in an unfinished fashion. This step will help you organize your ideas and determine the form your final paper will take. After this, you will revise the draft as many times as you think necessary to create a final product to turn in to your instructor.

Step 7: Cite your sources properly

Give credit where credit is due; cite your sources.

Citing or documenting the sources used in your research serves two purposes: it gives proper credit to the authors of the materials used, and it allows those who are reading your work to duplicate your research and locate the sources that you have listed as references. The  MLA  and the  APA  Styles are two popular citation formats.

Failure to cite your sources properly is plagiarism. Plagiarism is avoidable!

Step 8: Proofread

The final step in the process is to proofread the paper you have created. Read through the text and check for any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure the sources you used are cited properly. Make sure the message that you want to get across to the reader has been thoroughly stated.

Additional research tips:

  • Work from the general to the specific -- find background information first, then use more specific sources.
  • Don't forget print sources -- many times print materials are more easily accessed and every bit as helpful as online resources.
  • The library has books on the topic of writing research papers at call number area LB 2369.
  • If you have questions about the assignment, ask your instructor.
  • If you have any questions about finding information in the library, ask the librarian.

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Overview of research process.

Research Process arrow example 1

The Research Process

Anything you write involves organization and a logical flow of ideas, so understanding the logic of the research process before beginning to write is essential. Simply put, you need to put your writing in the larger context—see the forest before you even attempt to see the trees.

In this brief introductory module, we’ll review the major steps in the research process, conceptualized here as a series of steps within a circle, with each step dependent on the previous one. The circle best depicts the recursive nature of the process; that is, once the process has been completed, the researcher may begin again by refining or expanding on the initial approach, or even pioneering a completely new approach to solving the problem.

Identify a Research Problem

You identify a research problem by first selecting a general topic that’s interesting to you and to the interests and specialties of your research advisor. Once identified, you’ll need to narrow it. For example, if teenage pregnancy is your general topic area, your specific topic could be a comparison of how teenage pregnancy affects young fathers and mothers differently.

Review the Literature

Find out what’s being asked or what’s already been done in the area by doing some exploratory reading. Discuss the topic with your advisor to gain additional insights, explore novel approaches, and begin to develop your research question, purpose statement, and hypothesis(es), if applicable.

Determine Research Question

A good research question is a question worth asking; one that poses a problem worth solving. A good question should:

  • Be clear . It must be understandable to you and to others.
  • Be researchable . It should be capable of developing into a manageable research design, so data may be collected in relation to it. Extremely abstract terms are unlikely to be suitable.
  • Connect with established theory and research . There should be a literature on which you can draw to illuminate how your research question(s) should be approached.
  • Be neither too broad nor too narrow. See Appendix A for a brief explanation of the narrowing process and how your research question, purpose statement, and hypothesis(es) are interconnected.

Appendix A Research Questions, Purpose Statement, Hypothesis(es)

Develop Research Methods

Once you’ve finalized your research question, purpose statement, and hypothesis(es), you’ll need to write your research proposal—a detailed management plan for your research project. The proposal is as essential to successful research as an architect’s plans are to the construction of a building.

See Appendix B to view the basic components of a research proposal.

Appendix B Components of a Research Proposal

Collect & Analyze Data

In Practical Research–Planning and Design (2005, 8th Edition), Leedy and Ormrod provide excellent advice for what the researcher does at this stage in the research process. The researcher now

  • collects data that potentially relate to the problem,
  • arranges the data into a logical organizational structure,
  • analyzes and interprets the data to determine their meaning, 
  • determines if the data resolve the research problem or not, and
  • determines if the data support the hypothesis or not.

Document the Work

Because research reports differ by discipline, the most effective way for you to understand formatting and citations is to examine reports from others in your department or field. The library’s electronic databases provide a wealth of examples illustrating how others in your field document their research.

Communicate Your Research

Talk with your advisor about potential local, regional, or national venues to present your findings. And don’t sell yourself short: Consider publishing your research in related books or journals.

Refine/Expand, Pioneer

Earlier, we emphasized the fact that the research process, rather than being linear, is recursive—the reason we conceptualized the process as a series of steps within a circle. At this stage, you may need to revisit your research problem in the context of your findings. You might also investigate the implications of your work and identify new problems or refine your previous approach.

The process then begins anew . . . and you’ll once again move through the series of steps in the circle.

Continue to Module Two

Appendix C - Key Research Terms

Libraries | Research Guides

Start your research, purpose of this guide, develop a research question, decide on sources, locate your resources.

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  • Course Reserves This link opens in a new window
  • Cite Your Sources
  • Individual and Group Study Spaces
  • Make an Appointment to Meet with a Librarian This link opens in a new window

This tutorial on research methods will help you gain practical skills and knowledge you can apply for all research needs.

Scroll down to learn about:.

  • Developing a Research Question : How do you get background knowledge? Develop a thesis? Start searching?
  • Deciding on Sources : What's the difference between academic and popular sources, or primary and secondary sources?
  • Locating Sources : How do you locate articles, books and literature reviews both from NUL and other academic institutions?
  • Tips for Reading and Note-taking : What are different strategies for reading scholarly articles and books?

Have a question or need help? Contact any NUL Subject Specialist Librarian for personal assistance.

  • Build Background on your Topic
  • Build a Question
  • Videos: Choose and Search Keywords

Somewhere in between your initial idea and settling on a research question, you'll need to do background research on how scholars in a particular subject area have discussed your topic. You may find background research in your textbook or class readings, academic books in the library's collection, or reference sources.

The databases below compile reference sources from a variety of disciplines, and they can be a great way to consider how your topic has been studied from different angles.

  • Oxford Bibliographies This link opens in a new window Offers annotated bibliographies of the most important books and articles on specific topics in a growing range of subject areas. Particularly useful for anyone beginning research.
  • Oxford Reference Online This link opens in a new window Online version of many Oxford University Press reference works, ranging from specialized dictionaries and companions to major reference works such as the Encyclopedia of Human Rights, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States, and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History, among many others.
  • CQ Researcher Plus Archive This link opens in a new window The CQ Researcher is a collection of reports covering political and social issues, with regular reports on topics in health, international affairs, education, the environment, technology and the U.S. economy.

Use  NU Search  to browse for books, reference entries, and periodicals to build background information.

After you have an initial project idea, you can think deeper about the idea by developing a "Topic + Question + Significance" sentence. This formula came from Kate Turabian's  Student's Guide to Writing College Papers . Turabian notes that you can use it plan and test your question, but do not incorporate this sentence directly into your paper (p. 13):

TOPIC: I am working on the topic of __________, QUESTION: because I want to find out __________, SIGNIFICANCE: so that I can help others understand __________.

Remember : the shorter your final paper, the narrower your topic needs to be. Having trouble?

  • Which specific subset of the topic you can focus on? Specific people, places, or times?
  • Is there a cause and effect relationship you can explore?
  • Is there something about this topic that is not addressed in scholarship?

Turabian, Kate L.  Student's Guide to Writing College Papers . 4th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2010.

How do you move from a research question to searching in a database? You first have to pick out keywords from your research question.

  • Evaluating Sources
  • Academic vs. Popular Publications
  • Primary vs. Secondary Sources
  • Video: Types of Scholarly Articles

When evaluating a source of information, consider both the content of the source itself and  the context in which the source was created.  


  •  What does it say? What is its main point or argument? Relevance to your topic? What new information, facts, or opinions does it include? 
  •  Where did you find it? Where was it published? 
  •  When was it written? Within the past few days, weeks, or years? Is it historical? Has its information changed over time? 
  •  Who created this information? What are their credentials? 
  •  Why does this source exist? Is its purpose to inform, persuade, or entertain? 
  •  How does it incorporate data or evidence? What kinds of evidence?


  •  What is the audience for this source? General readers, people who work in a specific field, academics? Does it assume previous knowledge? 
  •  Where can you find other information about this topic? 
  •  When was this information last updated? Has it been revised, redacted, or challenged? 
  •  Who is missing from the conversation? Does it include opposing viewpoints, marginalized voices, or global perspectives? 
  •  Why do you need this information? Is it for an academic assignment, work project, personal decision-making, or to share with others?* 
  •  How did the information find you?  Was it through a relevance-ranked search, social media algorithm, advertising cookie, or press release? 

 *Sources that may be appropriate for sharing with others, deepening personal understanding, or decision-making may not be appropriate for an academic assignment or work presentation. When in doubt, check with your librarian or professor for more guidance! 

Adapted from  Beyond the Source  created by the DePaul University Libraries .

Not all "articles" are the same! They have different purposes and different "architecture".

  • Original article – information based on original research
  • Case reports – usually of a single case
  • Technical notes -  describe a specific technique or procedure
  • Pictorial essay – teaching article with images
  • Review – detailed analysis of recent research on a specific topic
  • Commentary – short article with author’s personal opinions
  • Editorial – often short review or critique of original articles
  • Letter to the Editor – short & on subject of interest to readers

Peh, WCG and NG, KH. (2008) "Basic Structure and Types of Scientific Papers." Singapore Medical Journal , 48 (7) : 522-525.  accessed 4/24/19.

  • What are the differences between types of articles? "Scholarly articles," "trade journals," "popular magazines," and "newspapers" are all referred to as "articles" - pretty confusing, right?! Check out this table which distinguishes between the different kinds of "articles" that could be useful sources.

Primary sources  provide the raw data you use to support your arguments. Some common types of primary resources include manuscripts, diaries, court cases, maps, data sets, experiment results, news stories, polls, or original research.  One other way to think about primary sources is  the author was there .

Secondary sources  analyze primary sources, using primary source materials to answer research questions.  Secondary sources may analyze, criticize, interpret or summarize data from primary sources. The most common secondary resources are books, journal articles, or reviews of the literature. 

Depending on the subject in which you are doing your research, what counts as a primary or secondary source can vary!  Here are some examples of types of sources that relate to dragons in different disciplines:

There are many types of primary resources, so it is important to define your parameters by:

  • Discipline (e.g. art, history, physics, political science)
  • Format (e.g. book, manuscript, map, photograph)
  • Type of information you need (e.g. numerical data, images, polls, government reports, letters)

Look at the  Primary and Secondary Sources  guide for more clarification on what primary and secondary sources are in different disciplines! 

  • Find Articles
  • Videos: Books at NU and Other Libraries
  • Find Literature Reviews

Northwestern has access to millions of articles not available through Google!

From the library website , enter your keywords into the NUSearch search box. All results with those keywords in the title or description will appear in the search results. Limit your results to "Peer-reviewed Journals" for scholarly articles.

For a more specific search,  go to one of the Libraries' many scholarly databases. If you know the name of your database, find it with  Databases A-Z . Find subject-specific lists of databases in our  Research Guides.

Searching a scholarly database is different from using a Google search. When searching: 

  • Use an advanced search, which  allows you to search for multiple keywords. "AND" allows you to enter more than one term in multiple search boxes to focus your search (e.g. apples AND oranges) for articles about both. "OR" broadens your results (e.g. apples OR oranges) for articles about either. 
  • The results may link to a full-text version of the article, but if one is not available, the library can likely get it for you! Clicking the "Find it @ NU" button  on the database's left-hand navigation will display other Northwestern databases that may have access to it. If we don't have access to the article, request it through Interlibrary Loan. 

Locating Books

To locate a book, use the NUsearch.  The catalog will tell you the location and call number for retrieval. You can also request for books to be pulled and picked up at the Circulation desk of your choosing.

Borrowing Materials from other Institutions

Need to borrow a book Northwestern does not own or have an article PDF scanned and sent to you? Log into (or create) your interlibrary loan account.  You may also check the status of your interlibrary loan requests here. Contact the Interlibrary Loan Department for more assistance.

  • Interlibrary Loan Department

  • Annual Reviews The Annual Reviews provide substantially researched articles written by recognized scholars in a wide variety of disciplines that summarize the major research literature in the field. These are often a good place to start your research and to keep informed about recent developments.
  • Oxford Handbooks Online Scholarly reviews of research in 15 subject fields including: Archaeology, Business/Management, Classical Studies, Criminology/Criminal Justice, Economics/Finance, History, Law, Linguistics, Literature, Music, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physical Sciences, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology.

Search for literature review articles in subject databases:

  • Type the phrase "Literature Review" (with quotation marks) as a search term OR
  • Look to see if there is an option to limit your search results by  Document Type  (this may appear underneath the search box or among the filters on the left side of the search results display).

research work in order

Be careful The document type "Review" is often used and may identify articles that are book reviews, software reviews or reviews of films, performances, art exhibits, etc.

research work in order

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The Aerospace Acquisition Encyclopedia

Program Management

The research process entails a systematic endeavor to acquire knowledge, resolve issues, or address particular inquiries. The process is a series of systematic procedures that a researcher must undertake to generate valuable knowledge that is relevant to the project and focused on the relevant subject matter. The process is iterative, with each subsequent step being influenced by the preceding one. The successful execution of this task necessitates meticulous strategic planning, meticulous attention to intricate particulars, and an unwavering dedication to acquiring knowledge and comprehension.

5 Steps in the Research Process Overview

The following steps outline a simple and effective process for conducting both basic and practical research. The five (5) steps in the research process are: [1]

  • Step 1: Locating and Defining Issues or Problems – Understanding the questions that need to be answered or studied
  • Step 2: Designing the Research Project – Creating a research plan
  • Step 3: Collecting Data – Obtaining the information needed to solve the identified issue or problem
  • Step 4: Interpreting Research Data – examining the research data and coming up with a conclusion that solves the problem
  • Step 5: Report Research Findings – Presenting the information

Step 1 – Locating and Defining Issues or Problems

This step focuses on uncovering the nature and boundaries of a situation or question that needs to be answered or studied. In defining the issues or problems, the researcher should take into account the purpose of the study, the relevant background information, what information is needed, and how it will be used in decision-making. A well-defined problem will help the researcher through all steps of the research process, from setting goals to choosing a method. There are a number of ways to learn more about a subject and get a better grasp on it in Step 2.

Step 2 – Designing the Research Project

This step is focused on creating a research plan or overall approach to how you are going to solve the issue or problem identified.  A research plan or approach is a framework or blueprint for conducting a research project. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the required information, and its purpose is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, determine possible answers to the research questions, and provide the information needed for decision-making.

The research design involves the following steps:

  • Step 1: Conduct secondary data analysis
  • Step 2: Do qualitative research
  • Step 3: Determine methods of collecting quantitative data (survey, observation, and experimentation)
  • Step 4: Determine the definition of the information needed
  • Step 5: Determine measurement and scaling procedures
  • Step 6: Design a questionnaire
  • Step 7: Sampling process and sample size
  • Step 8: Plan of data analysis

Step 3 – Collecting Data

This step revolved around obtaining the information needed to solve the identified issue or problem.  Data collection can involve experiments, observations, personal interviewing (in-home, mall intercept, or computer-assisted personal interviewing), from an office by telephone (telephone or computer-assisted telephone interviewing), or through the mail (traditional mail and mail panel surveys with recruited households). The two groups of researchers must provide data.

Data collection techniques can include:

  • Interviews: Asking people questions about their known information
  • Observations: collecting data without asking questions.
  • Questionnaires: Ask questions among a group of people
  • Focus Groups: Interviewing and observing a group of people
  • Documents and Records: old fashion research
  • Literature review: old fashion reseach
  • Library Sources: Old reports and articles/books

Step 4 – Interpreting Research Data

This step is focused on interpreting and examining the research data and coming up with a conclusion that solves the problem. Make sure the conclusion is easy to understand and well thought out based on the data collected.

Analysis Steps

  • Step A: Review your research plan
  • Step B: Organize your finding and the information you have collected from Step 3.
  • Step C: Create a rough draft of your finding, recommendations, and conclusion. The rough draft will help you get your thoughts organized.
  • Step D: Polish the rough draft into your final research finding. You will most likely revise the draft many times before the final product is ready for Step 5.

Step 5 – Report Research Findings

The final step is to report the research findings to those who need the data to make decisions. The findings should be presented in an understandable format so that they can be readily used in the decision-making process. In addition, an oral presentation should be made to management using tables, figures, and graphs to enhance clarity and impact.

Research Reporting Formats:

  • Formal Paper
  • Published Article
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Audio or Video
  • Spreadsheet

Typical Formal Research Report Format

A formal research report typically consists of several sections organized in a specific order to present the research findings clearly and structured. Here is a notional format of a research report, including the typical sections:

  • Title Page: – Title of the Research Report – Name(s) of the Author(s) – Affiliation(s) of the Author(s) – Date of Submission
  • Abstract: – A brief summary of the research objectives, methods, key findings, and conclusions. – Usually limited to a specific word count or length.
  • Table of Contents: – A list of the main sections, subsections, and page numbers in the report. – Helps readers navigate through the report easily.
  • Introduction: – Provides an overview of the research topic, including background information, context, and significance. – States the research problem, objectives, and research questions. – Outlines the scope and limitations of the study.
  • Literature Review: – Reviews relevant literature and previous studies related to the research topic. – Summarizes existing knowledge, theories, and methodologies. – Identifies gaps, controversies, or unresolved issues that the current research aims to address.
  • Methodology: – Describes the research design, methods, and procedures used to collect and analyze data. – Includes information on the sample size, data sources, data collection tools, and data analysis techniques. – Provides sufficient details for replication and validation of the study.
  • Results: – Presents the findings of the research in a clear and organized manner. – Utilizes tables, figures, charts, or graphs to present data. – Includes descriptive statistics, qualitative analysis, or any other relevant analysis outputs.
  • Discussion: – Interprets and discusses the research findings in relation to the research objectives. – Compares the results with existing literature and theories. – Analyzes patterns, trends, correlations, or discrepancies in the data. – Provides explanations, justifications, or hypotheses to support the findings.
  • Conclusion: – Summarizes the main findings of the research. – Restates the research objectives and addresses the research questions. – Highlights the contributions and implications of the study. – Suggests recommendations for future research or practical applications.
  • References: – Lists all the sources cited within the research report. – Follows a specific referencing style (e.g., APA, MLA, IEEE) as per the guidelines.
  • Appendices: – Includes supplementary information or additional data that supports the research findings but is not necessary for the main body of the report. – May include survey questionnaires, interview transcripts, data tables, software code, or any other relevant materials.

It’s important to note that the structure and specific section names may vary depending on the discipline, research field, or journal requirements. Always refer to the specific guidelines your institution or publisher provided when preparing a research report.

Research Process Lessons Learned

  • Define the research challenge and goals in detail: It’s crucial to grasp exactly what you’re attempting to learn and what you want to achieve. This will make it easier to direct your research efforts and guarantee that you are gathering pertinent facts.
  • Select the best research design possible: Various research designs are applicable for various research topics. Choosing the proper design will help assure your study’s validity and reliability.
  • Collect reliable information: because it will directly impact how well your research turns out. Use the right data-gathering techniques, and make sure the data is gathered reliably and consistently.
  • Analyze the data correctly: If you want to draw reliable findings from your research, your data analysis must be done correctly. It is crucial to employ the proper statistical methods and interpret the findings cautiously.
  • Effectively explain your findings: It’s critical to provide your research’s conclusions in a clear, succinct manner. Writing a research report, presenting your findings at a conference, or publishing your study in a journal are all examples of how to do this.

Qualitative Research in the Research Process

Information, industry experts, and secondary data may not be sufficient to define the research problem. Sometimes qualitative research must be undertaken to gain a qualitative understanding of the problem and its underlying factors. Qualitative research is unstructured, exploratory in nature, based on small samples, and may utilize popular qualitative techniques such as focus groups (group interviews), word association (asking respondents to indicate their first responses to stimulus words), and depth interviews (one-on-one interviews which probe the respondents’ thoughts in detail). Other exploratory research techniques, such as pilot surveys with small samples of respondents, may also be undertaken.

There are various steps in the research process, which makes it simple to accomplish the research successfully. The above-described steps in the research process are interdependent, hence the order must be followed. So, if we want to conduct research, we should adhere to the steps of the research process to conduct good and reliable results.

AcqNotes Tutorial

AcqLinks and References:

  • [1] Pride, Ferel (2010). Marketing. South-Western Cengage Learning

Updated: 7/12/2023

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Purpose of Guide
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  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
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  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
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  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
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  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

Reading a Scholarly Article or Research Paper

Identifying a research problem to investigate usually requires a preliminary search for and review of the literature in order to gain an understanding about how scholars have examined a topic. Scholars rarely structure research studies in a way that can be followed like a story; they are complex and detail-intensive and often written in a descriptive and conclusive narrative form. However, in the social and behavioral sciences, journal articles and stand-alone research reports are generally organized in a consistent format that makes it easier to compare and contrast studies and to interpret their contents.

General Reading Strategies

W hen you first read an article or research paper, focus on asking specific questions about each section. This strategy can help with overall comprehension and with understanding how the content relates [or does not relate] to the problem you want to investigate. As you review more and more studies, the process of understanding and critically evaluating the research will become easier because the content of what you review will begin to coalescence around common themes and patterns of analysis. Below are recommendations on how to read each section of a research paper effectively. Note that the sections to read are out of order from how you will find them organized in a journal article or research paper.

1.  Abstract

The abstract summarizes the background, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions of a scholarly article or research paper. Use the abstract to filter out sources that may have appeared useful when you began searching for information but, in reality, are not relevant. Questions to consider when reading the abstract are:

  • Is this study related to my question or area of research?
  • What is this study about and why is it being done ?
  • What is the working hypothesis or underlying thesis?
  • What is the primary finding of the study?
  • Are there words or terminology that I can use to either narrow or broaden the parameters of my search for more information?

2.  Introduction

If, after reading the abstract, you believe the paper may be useful, focus on examining the research problem and identifying the questions the author is trying to address. This information is usually located within the first few paragraphs of the introduction or in the concluding paragraph. Look for information about how and in what way this relates to what you are investigating. In addition to the research problem, the introduction should provide the main argument and theoretical framework of the study and, in the last paragraphs of the introduction, describe what the author(s) intend to accomplish. Questions to consider when reading the introduction include:

  • What is this study trying to prove or disprove?
  • What is the author(s) trying to test or demonstrate?
  • What do we already know about this topic and what gaps does this study try to fill or contribute a new understanding to the research problem?
  • Why should I care about what is being investigated?
  • Will this study tell me anything new related to the research problem I am investigating?

3.  Literature Review

The literature review describes and critically evaluates what is already known about a topic. Read the literature review to obtain a big picture perspective about how the topic has been studied and to begin the process of seeing where your potential study fits within the domain of prior research. Questions to consider when reading the literature review include:

  • W hat other research has been conducted about this topic and what are the main themes that have emerged?
  • What does prior research reveal about what is already known about the topic and what remains to be discovered?
  • What have been the most important past findings about the research problem?
  • How has prior research led the author(s) to conduct this particular study?
  • Is there any prior research that is unique or groundbreaking?
  • Are there any studies I could use as a model for designing and organizing my own study?

4.  Discussion/Conclusion

The discussion and conclusion are usually the last two sections of text in a scholarly article or research report. They reveal how the author(s) interpreted the findings of their research and presented recommendations or courses of action based on those findings. Often in the conclusion, the author(s) highlight recommendations for further research that can be used to develop your own study. Questions to consider when reading the discussion and conclusion sections include:

  • What is the overall meaning of the study and why is this important? [i.e., how have the author(s) addressed the " So What? " question].
  • What do you find to be the most important ways that the findings have been interpreted?
  • What are the weaknesses in their argument?
  • Do you believe conclusions about the significance of the study and its findings are valid?
  • What limitations of the study do the author(s) describe and how might this help formulate my own research?
  • Does the conclusion contain any recommendations for future research?

5.  Methods/Methodology

The methods section describes the materials, techniques, and procedures for gathering information used to examine the research problem. If what you have read so far closely supports your understanding of the topic, then move on to examining how the author(s) gathered information during the research process. Questions to consider when reading the methods section include:

  • Did the study use qualitative [based on interviews, observations, content analysis], quantitative [based on statistical analysis], or a mixed-methods approach to examining the research problem?
  • What was the type of information or data used?
  • Could this method of analysis be repeated and can I adopt the same approach?
  • Is enough information available to repeat the study or should new data be found to expand or improve understanding of the research problem?

6.  Results

After reading the above sections, you should have a clear understanding of the general findings of the study. Therefore, read the results section to identify how key findings were discussed in relation to the research problem. If any non-textual elements [e.g., graphs, charts, tables, etc.] are confusing, focus on the explanations about them in the text. Questions to consider when reading the results section include:

  • W hat did the author(s) find and how did they find it?
  • Does the author(s) highlight any findings as most significant?
  • Are the results presented in a factual and unbiased way?
  • Does the analysis of results in the discussion section agree with how the results are presented?
  • Is all the data present and did the author(s) adequately address gaps?
  • What conclusions do you formulate from this data and does it match with the author's conclusions?

7.  References

The references list the sources used by the author(s) to document what prior research and information was used when conducting the study. After reviewing the article or research paper, use the references to identify additional sources of information on the topic and to examine critically how these sources supported the overall research agenda. Questions to consider when reading the references include:

  • Do the sources cited by the author(s) reflect a diversity of disciplinary viewpoints, i.e., are the sources all from a particular field of study or do the sources reflect multiple areas of study?
  • Are there any unique or interesting sources that could be incorporated into my study?
  • What other authors are respected in this field, i.e., who has multiple works cited or is cited most often by others?
  • What other research should I review to clarify any remaining issues or that I need more information about?

NOTE :  A final strategy in reviewing research is to copy and paste the title of the source [journal article, book, research report] into Google Scholar . If it appears, look for a "cited by" followed by a hyperlinked number [e.g., Cited by 45]. This number indicates how many times the study has been subsequently cited in other, more recently published works. This strategy, known as citation tracking, can be an effective means of expanding your review of pertinent literature based on a study you have found useful and how scholars have cited it. The same strategies described above can be applied to reading articles you find in the list of cited by references.

Reading Tip

Specific Reading Strategies

Effectively reading scholarly research is an acquired skill that involves attention to detail and an ability to comprehend complex ideas, data, and theoretical concepts in a way that applies logically to the research problem you are investigating. Here are some specific reading strategies to consider.

As You are Reading

  • Focus on information that is most relevant to the research problem; skim over the other parts.
  • As noted above, read content out of order! This isn't a novel; you want to start with the spoiler to quickly assess the relevance of the study.
  • Think critically about what you read and seek to build your own arguments; not everything may be entirely valid, examined effectively, or thoroughly investigated.
  • Look up the definitions of unfamiliar words, concepts, or terminology. A good scholarly source is Credo Reference .

Taking notes as you read will save time when you go back to examine your sources. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mark or highlight important text as you read [e.g., you can use the highlight text  feature in a PDF document]
  • Take notes in the margins [e.g., Adobe Reader offers pop-up sticky notes].
  • Highlight important quotations; consider using different colors to differentiate between quotes and other types of important text.
  • Summarize key points about the study at the end of the paper. To save time, these can be in the form of a concise bulleted list of statements [e.g., intro has provides historical background; lit review has important sources; good conclusions].

Write down thoughts that come to mind that may help clarify your understanding of the research problem. Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I understand all of the terminology and key concepts?
  • Do I understand the parts of this study most relevant to my topic?
  • What specific problem does the research address and why is it important?
  • Are there any issues or perspectives the author(s) did not consider?
  • Do I have any reason to question the validity or reliability of this research?
  • How do the findings relate to my research interests and to other works which I have read?

Adapted from text originally created by Holly Burt, Behavioral Sciences Librarian, USC Libraries, April 2018.

Another Reading Tip

When is it Important to Read the Entire Article or Research Paper

Laubepin argues, "Very few articles in a field are so important that every word needs to be read carefully." However, this implies that some studies are worth reading carefully. As painful and time-consuming as it may seem, there are valid reasons for reading a study in its entirety from beginning to end. Here are some examples:

  • Studies Published Very Recently .  The author(s) of a recent, well written study will provide a survey of the most important or impactful prior research in the literature review section. This can establish an understanding of how scholars in the past addressed the research problem. In addition, the most recently published sources will highlight what is currently known and what gaps in understanding currently exist about a topic, usually in the form of the need for further research in the conclusion .
  • Surveys of the Research Problem .  Some papers provide a comprehensive analytical overview of the research problem. Reading this type of study can help you understand underlying issues and discover why scholars have chosen to investigate the topic. This is particularly important if the study was published very recently because the author(s) should cite all or most of the key prior research on the topic. Note that, if it is a long-standing problem, there may be studies that specifically review the literature to identify gaps that remain. These studies often include the word review in their title [e.g., Hügel, Stephan, and Anna R. Davies. "Public Participation, Engagement, and Climate Change Adaptation: A Review of the Research Literature." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 11 (July-August 2020): wcc.645].
  • Highly Cited .  If you keep coming across the same citation to a study while you are reviewing the literature, this implies it was foundational in establishing an understanding of the research problem or the study had a significant impact within the literature [positive or negative]. Carefully reading a highly cited source can help you understand how the topic emerged and motivated scholars to further investigate the problem. It also could be a study you need to cite as foundational in your own paper to demonstrate to the reader that you understand the roots of the problem.
  • Historical Overview .  Knowing the historical background of a research problem may not be the focus of your analysis. Nevertheless, carefully reading a study that provides a thorough description and analysis of the history behind an event, issue, or phenomenon can add important context to understanding the topic and what aspect of the problem you may want to examine further.
  • Innovative Methodological Design .  Some studies are significant and worth reading in their entirety because the author(s) designed a unique or innovative approach to researching the problem. This may justify reading the entire study because it can motivate you to think creatively about pursuing an alternative or non-traditional approach to examining your topic of interest. These types of studies are generally easy to identify because they are often cited in others works because of their unique approach to studying the research problem.
  • Cross-disciplinary Approach .  R eviewing studies produced outside of your discipline is an essential component of investigating research problems in the social and behavioral sciences. Consider reading a study that was conducted by author(s) based in a different discipline [e.g., an anthropologist studying political cultures; a study of hiring practices in companies published in a sociology journal]. This approach can generate a new understanding or a unique perspective about the topic . If you are not sure how to search for studies published in a discipline outside of your major or of the course you are taking, contact a librarian for assistance.

Laubepin, Frederique. How to Read (and Understand) a Social Science Journal Article . Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ISPSR), 2013; Shon, Phillip Chong Ho. How to Read Journal Articles in the Social Sciences: A Very Practical Guide for Students . 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2015; Lockhart, Tara, and Mary Soliday. "The Critical Place of Reading in Writing Transfer (and Beyond): A Report of Student Experiences." Pedagogy 16 (2016): 23-37; Maguire, Moira, Ann Everitt Reynolds, and Brid Delahunt. "Reading to Be: The Role of Academic Reading in Emergent Academic and Professional Student Identities." Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice 17 (2020): 5-12.

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How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.

Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  • Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
  • Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
  • Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

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There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

  • A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
  • A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

  • Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
  • Are there any heated debates you can address?
  • Do you have a unique take on your topic?
  • Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

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A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

  • Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
  • Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
  • Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

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The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

  • topic sentences against the thesis statement;
  • topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
  • and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

  • Offer new arguments or essential information
  • Take up any more space than necessary
  • Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

  • Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
  • Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
  • Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
  • If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible.

Global concerns

  • Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
  • Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
  • Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

  • each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
  • no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
  • all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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Research Process: 8 Steps in Research Process

Research Process: 8 Steps In Research Process

The research process starts with identifying a research problem and conducting a literature review to understand the context. The researcher sets research questions, objectives, and hypotheses based on the research problem.

A research study design is formed to select a sample size and collect data after processing and analyzing the collected data and the research findings presented in a research report.

What is the Research Process?

There are a variety of approaches to research in any field of investigation, irrespective of whether it is applied research or basic research. Each research study will be unique in some ways because of the particular time, setting, environment, and place it is being undertaken.

Nevertheless, all research endeavors share a common goal of furthering our understanding of the problem, and thus all traverse through certain primary stages, forming a process called the research process.

Understanding the research process is necessary to effectively carry out research and sequence the stages inherent in the process.

Eight steps research process is, in essence, part and parcel of a research proposal. It is an outline of the commitment that you intend to follow in executing a research study.

A close examination of the above stages reveals that each of these stages, by and large, is dependent upon the others.

One cannot analyze data (step 7) unless he has collected data (step 6). One cannot write a report (step 8) unless he has collected and analyzed data (step 7).

Research then is a system of interdependent related stages. Violation of this sequence can cause irreparable harm to the study.

It is also true that several alternatives are available to the researcher during each stage stated above. A research process can be compared with a route map.

The map analogy is useful for the researcher because several alternatives exist at each stage of the research process.

Choosing the best alternative in terms of time constraints, money, and human resources in our research decision is our primary goal.

Before explaining the stages of the research process, we explain the term ‘iterative’ appearing within the oval-shaped diagram at the center of the schematic diagram.

The key to a successful research project ultimately lies in iteration: the process of returning again and again to the identification of the research problems, methodology, data collection, etc., which leads to new ideas, revisions, and improvements.

By discussing the research project with advisers and peers, one will often find that new research questions need to be added, variables to be omitted, added or redefined, and other changes to be made. As a proposed study is examined and reexamined from different perspectives, it may begin to transform and take a different shape.

This is expected and is an essential component of a good research study.

Besides, examining study methods and data collected from different viewpoints is important to ensure a comprehensive approach to the research question.

In conclusion, there is seldom any single strategy or formula for developing a successful research study, but it is essential to realize that the research process is cyclical and iterative.

What is the primary purpose of the research process?

The research process aims to identify a research problem, understand its context through a literature review, set research questions and objectives, design a research study, select a sample, collect data, analyze the data, and present the findings in a research report.

Why is the research design important in the research process?

The research design is the blueprint for fulfilling objectives and answering research questions. It specifies the methods and procedures for collecting, processing, and analyzing data, ensuring the study is structured and systematic.

Research Process: 8 Steps In Research Process

8 Steps of Research Process

Identifying the research problem.

Identifying The Research Problem

The first and foremost task in the entire process of scientific research is to identify a research problem .

A well-identified problem will lead the researcher to accomplish all-important phases of the research process, from setting objectives to selecting the research methodology .

But the core question is: whether all problems require research.

We have countless problems around us, but all we encounter do not qualify as research problems; thus, these do not need to be researched.

Keeping this point in mind, we must draw a line between research and non-research problems.

Intuitively, researchable problems are those that have a possibility of thorough verification investigation, which can be effected through the analysis and collection of data. In contrast, the non-research problems do not need to go through these processes.

Researchers need to identify both;

Non-Research Problems

Statement of the problem, justifying the problem, analyzing the problem.

A non-research problem does not require any research to arrive at a solution. Intuitively, a non-researchable problem consists of vague details and cannot be resolved through research.

It is a managerial or built-in problem that may be solved at the administrative or management level. The answer to any question raised in a non-research setting is almost always obvious.

The cholera outbreak, for example, following a severe flood, is a common phenomenon in many communities. The reason for this is known. It is thus not a research problem.

Similarly, the reasons for the sudden rise in prices of many essential commodities following the announcement of the budget by the Finance Minister need no investigation. Hence it is not a problem that needs research.

How is a research problem different from a non-research problem?

A research problem is a perceived difficulty that requires thorough verification and investigation through data analysis and collection. In contrast, a non-research problem does not require research for a solution, as the answer is often obvious or already known.

Non-Research Problems Examples

A recent survey in town- A found that 1000 women were continuous users of contraceptive pills.

But last month’s service statistics indicate that none of these women were using contraceptive pills (Fisher et al. 1991:4).

The discrepancy is that ‘all 1000 women should have been using a pill, but none is doing so. The question is: why the discrepancy exists?

Well, the fact is, a monsoon flood has prevented all new supplies of pills from reaching town- A, and all old supplies have been exhausted. Thus, although the problem situation exists, the reason for the problem is already known.

Therefore, assuming all the facts are correct, there is no reason to research the factors associated with pill discontinuation among women. This is, thus, a non-research problem.

A pilot survey by University students revealed that in Rural Town-A, the goiter prevalence among school children is as high as 80%, while in the neighboring Rural Town-A, it is only 30%. Why is a discrepancy?

Upon inquiry, it was seen that some three years back, UNICEF launched a lipiodol injection program in the neighboring Rural Town-A.

This attempt acted as a preventive measure against the goiter. The reason for the discrepancy is known; hence, we do not consider the problem a research problem.

A hospital treated a large number of cholera cases with penicillin, but the treatment with penicillin was not found to be effective. Do we need research to know the reason?

Here again, there is one single reason that Vibrio cholera is not sensitive to penicillin; therefore, this is not the drug of choice for this disease.

In this case, too, as the reasons are known, it is unwise to undertake any study to find out why penicillin does not improve the condition of cholera patients. This is also a non-research problem.

In the tea marketing system , buying and selling tea starts with bidders. Blenders purchase open tea from the bidders. Over the years, marketing cost has been the highest for bidders and the lowest for blenders. What makes this difference?

The bidders pay exorbitantly higher transport costs, which constitute about 30% of their total cost.

Blenders have significantly fewer marketing functions involving transportation, so their marketing cost remains minimal.

Hence no research is needed to identify the factors that make this difference.

Here are some of the problems we frequently encounter, which may well be considered non-research problems:

  • Rises in the price of warm clothes during winter;
  • Preferring admission to public universities over private universities;
  • Crisis of accommodations in sea resorts during summer
  • Traffic jams in the city street after office hours;
  • High sales in department stores after an offer of a discount.

Research Problem

In contrast to a non-research problem, a research problem is of primary concern to a researcher.

A research problem is a perceived difficulty, a feeling of discomfort, or a discrepancy between a common belief and reality.

As noted by Fisher et al. (1993), a problem will qualify as a potential research problem when the following three conditions exist:

  • There should be a perceived discrepancy between “what it is” and “what it should have been.” This implies that there should be a difference between “what exists” and the “ideal or planned situation”;
  • A question about “why” the discrepancy exists. This implies that the reason(s) for this discrepancy is unclear to the researcher (so that it makes sense to develop a research question); and
  • There should be at least two possible answers or solutions to the questions or problems.

The third point is important. If there is only one possible and plausible answer to the question about the discrepancy, then a research situation does not exist.

It is a non-research problem that can be tackled at the managerial or administrative level.

Research Problem Examples

Research problem – example #1.

While visiting a rural area, the UNICEF team observed that some villages have female school attendance rates as high as 75%, while some have as low as 10%, although all villages should have a nearly equal attendance rate. What factors are associated with this discrepancy?

We may enumerate several reasons for this:

  • Villages differ in their socio-economic background.
  • In some villages, the Muslim population constitutes a large proportion of the total population. Religion might play a vital role.
  • Schools are far away from some villages. The distance thus may make this difference.

Because there is more than one answer to the problem, it is considered a research problem, and a study can be undertaken to find a solution.

Research Problem – Example #2

The Government has been making all-out efforts to ensure a regular flow of credit in rural areas at a concession rate through liberal lending policy and establishing many bank branches in rural areas.

Knowledgeable sources indicate that expected development in rural areas has not yet been achieved, mainly because of improper credit utilization.

More than one reason is suspected for such misuse or misdirection.

These include, among others:

  • Diversion of credit money to some unproductive sectors
  • Transfer of credit money to other people like money lenders, who exploit the rural people with this money
  • Lack of knowledge of proper utilization of the credit.

Here too, reasons for misuse of loans are more than one. We thus consider this problem as a researchable problem.

Research Problem – Example #3

Let’s look at a new headline: Stock Exchange observes the steepest ever fall in stock prices: several injured as retail investors clash with police, vehicles ransacked ‘.

Investors’ demonstration, protest and clash with police pause a problem. Still, it is certainly not a research problem since there is only one known reason for the problem: Stock Exchange experiences the steepest fall in stock prices. But what causes this unprecedented fall in the share market?

Experts felt that no single reason could be attributed to the problem. It is a mix of several factors and is a research problem. The following were assumed to be some of the possible reasons:

  • The merchant banking system;
  • Liquidity shortage because of the hike in the rate of cash reserve requirement (CRR);
  • IMF’s warnings and prescriptions on the commercial banks’ exposure to the stock market;
  • Increase in supply of new shares;
  • Manipulation of share prices;
  • Lack of knowledge of the investors on the company’s fundamentals.

The choice of a research problem is not as easy as it appears. The researchers generally guide it;

  • own intellectual orientation ,
  • level of training,
  • experience,
  • knowledge on the subject matter, and
  • intellectual curiosity.

Theoretical and practical considerations also play a vital role in choosing a research problem. Societal needs also guide in choosing a research problem.

Once we have chosen a research problem, a few more related steps must be followed before a decision is taken to undertake a research study.

These include, among others, the following:

  • Statement of the problem.
  • Justifying the problem.
  • Analyzing the problem.

A detailed exposition of these issues is undertaken in chapter ten while discussing the proposal development.

A clear and well-defined problem statement is considered the foundation for developing the research proposal.

It enables the researcher to systematically point out why the proposed research on the problem should be undertaken and what he hopes to achieve with the study’s findings.

A well-defined statement of the problem will lead the researcher to formulate the research objectives, understand the background of the study, and choose a proper research methodology.

Once the problem situation has been identified and clearly stated, it is important to justify the importance of the problem.

In justifying the problems, we ask such questions as why the problem of the study is important, how large and widespread the problem is, and whether others can be convinced about the importance of the problem and the like.

Answers to the above questions should be reviewed and presented in one or two paragraphs that justify the importance of the problem.

As a first step in analyzing the problem, critical attention should be given to accommodate the viewpoints of the managers, users, and researchers to the problem through threadbare discussions.

The next step is identifying the factors that may have contributed to the perceived problems.

Issues of Research Problem Identification

There are several ways to identify, define, and analyze a problem, obtain insights, and get a clearer idea about these issues. Exploratory research is one of the ways of accomplishing this.

The purpose of the exploratory research process is to progressively narrow the scope of the topic and transform the undefined problems into defined ones, incorporating specific research objectives.

The exploratory study entails a few basic strategies for gaining insights into the problem. It is accomplished through such efforts as:

Pilot Survey

A pilot survey collects proxy data from the ultimate subjects of the study to serve as a guide for the large study. A pilot study generates primary data, usually for qualitative analysis.

This characteristic distinguishes a pilot survey from secondary data analysis, which gathers background information.

Case Studies

Case studies are quite helpful in diagnosing a problem and paving the way to defining the problem. It investigates one or a few situations identical to the researcher’s problem.

Focus Group Interviews

Focus group interviews, an unstructured free-flowing interview with a small group of people, may also be conducted to understand and define a research problem .

Experience Survey

Experience survey is another strategy to deal with the problem of identifying and defining the research problem.

It is an exploratory research endeavor in which individuals knowledgeable and experienced in a particular research problem are intimately consulted to understand the problem.

These persons are sometimes known as key informants, and an interview with them is popularly known as the Key Informant Interview (KII).

Reviewing of Literature

Reviewing Research Literature

A review of relevant literature is an integral part of the research process. It enables the researcher to formulate his problem in terms of the specific aspects of the general area of his interest that has not been researched so far.

Such a review provides exposure to a larger body of knowledge and equips him with enhanced knowledge to efficiently follow the research process.

Through a proper review of the literature, the researcher may develop the coherence between the results of his study and those of the others.

A review of previous documents on similar or related phenomena is essential even for beginning researchers.

Ignoring the existing literature may lead to wasted effort on the part of the researchers.

Why spend time merely repeating what other investigators have already done?

Suppose the researcher is aware of earlier studies of his topic or related topics . In that case, he will be in a much better position to assess his work’s significance and convince others that it is important.

A confident and expert researcher is more crucial in questioning the others’ methodology, the choice of the data, and the quality of the inferences drawn from the study results.

In sum, we enumerate the following arguments in favor of reviewing the literature:

  • It avoids duplication of the work that has been done in the recent past.
  • It helps the researcher discover what others have learned and reported on the problem.
  • It enables the researcher to become familiar with the methodology followed by others.
  • It allows the researcher to understand what concepts and theories are relevant to his area of investigation.
  • It helps the researcher to understand if there are any significant controversies, contradictions, and inconsistencies in the findings.
  • It allows the researcher to understand if there are any unanswered research questions.
  • It might help the researcher to develop an analytical framework.
  • It will help the researcher consider including variables in his research that he might not have thought about.

Why is reviewing literature crucial in the research process?

Reviewing literature helps avoid duplicating previous work, discovers what others have learned about the problem, familiarizes the researcher with relevant concepts and theories, and ensures a comprehensive approach to the research question.

What is the significance of reviewing literature in the research process?

Reviewing relevant literature helps formulate the problem, understand the background of the study, choose a proper research methodology, and develop coherence between the study’s results and previous findings.

Setting Research Questions, Objectives, and Hypotheses

Setting Research Questions, Objectives, And Hypotheses

After discovering and defining the research problem, researchers should make a formal statement of the problem leading to research objectives .

An objective will precisely say what should be researched, delineate the type of information that should be collected, and provide a framework for the scope of the study. A well-formulated, testable research hypothesis is the best expression of a research objective.

A hypothesis is an unproven statement or proposition that can be refuted or supported by empirical data. Hypothetical statements assert a possible answer to a research question.

Step #4: Choosing the Study Design

Choosing The Study Design

The research design is the blueprint or framework for fulfilling objectives and answering research questions .

It is a master plan specifying the methods and procedures for collecting, processing, and analyzing the collected data. There are four basic research designs that a researcher can use to conduct their study;

  • experiment,
  • secondary data study, and
  • observational study.

The type of research design to be chosen from among the above four methods depends primarily on four factors:

  • The type of problem
  • The objectives of the study,
  • The existing state of knowledge about the problem that is being studied, and
  • The resources are available for the study.

Deciding on the Sample Design

Deciding On The Sample Design

Sampling is an important and separate step in the research process. The basic idea of sampling is that it involves any procedure that uses a relatively small number of items or portions (called a sample) of a universe (called population) to conclude the whole population.

It contrasts with the process of complete enumeration, in which every member of the population is included.

Such a complete enumeration is referred to as a census.

A population is the total collection of elements we wish to make some inference or generalization.

A sample is a part of the population, carefully selected to represent that population. If certain statistical procedures are followed in selecting the sample, it should have the same characteristics as the population. These procedures are embedded in the sample design.

Sample design refers to the methods followed in selecting a sample from the population and the estimating technique vis-a-vis the formula for computing the sample statistics .

The fundamental question is, then, how to select a sample.

To answer this question, we must have acquaintance with the sampling methods.

These methods are basically of two types;

  • probability sampling , and
  • non-probability sampling .

Probability sampling ensures every unit has a known nonzero probability of selection within the target population.

If there is no feasible alternative, a non-probability sampling method may be employed.

The basis of such selection is entirely dependent on the researcher’s discretion. This approach is called judgment sampling, convenience sampling, accidental sampling, and purposive sampling.

The most widely used probability sampling methods are simple random sampling , stratified random sampling , cluster sampling , and systematic sampling . They have been classified by their representation basis and unit selection techniques.

Two other variations of the sampling methods that are in great use are multistage sampling and probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling .

Multistage sampling is most commonly used in drawing samples from very large and diverse populations.

The PPS sampling is a variation of multistage sampling in which the probability of selecting a cluster is proportional to its size, and an equal number of elements are sampled within each cluster.

Collecting Data From The Research Sample

Collect Data From The Research Sample

Data gathering may range from simple observation to a large-scale survey in any defined population. There are many ways to collect data. The approach selected depends on the objectives of the study, the research design, and the availability of time, money, and personnel.

With the variation in the type of data (qualitative or quantitative) to be collected, the method of data collection also varies .

The most common means for collecting quantitative data is the structured interview .

Studies that obtain data by interviewing respondents are called surveys. Data can also be collected by using self-administered questionnaires . Telephone interviewing is another way in which data may be collected .

Other means of data collection include secondary sources, such as the census, vital registration records, official documents, previous surveys, etc.

Qualitative data are collected mainly through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions , Key Informant Interview ( KII), and observational studies.

Process and Analyze the Collected Research Data

Processing And Analyzing The Collected Research Data

Data processing generally begins with the editing and coding of data . Data are edited to ensure consistency across respondents and to locate omissions if any.

In survey data, editing reduces errors in the recording, improves legibility, and clarifies unclear and inappropriate responses. In addition to editing, the data also need coding.

Because it is impractical to place raw data into a report, alphanumeric codes are used to reduce the responses to a more manageable form for storage and future processing.

This coding process facilitates the processing of the data. The personal computer offers an excellent opportunity for data editing and coding processes.

Data analysis usually involves reducing accumulated data to a manageable size, developing summaries, searching for patterns, and applying statistical techniques for understanding and interpreting the findings in light of the research questions.

Further, based on his analysis, the researcher determines if his findings are consistent with the formulated hypotheses and theories.

The techniques used in analyzing data may range from simple graphical techniques to very complex multivariate analyses depending on the study’s objectives, the research design employed, and the nature of the data collected.

As in the case of data collection methods, an analytical technique appropriate in one situation may not be suitable for another.

Writing Research Report – Developing Research Proposal, Writing Report, Disseminating and Utilizing Results

Writing Research Report - Developing Research Proposal, Writing Report, Disseminating And Utilizing Results

The entire task of a research study is accumulated in a document called a proposal or research proposal.

A research proposal is a work plan, prospectus, outline, offer, and a statement of intent or commitment from an individual researcher or an organization to produce a product or render a service to a potential client or sponsor .

The proposal will be prepared to keep the sequence presented in the research process. The proposal tells us what, how, where, and to whom it will be done.

It must also show the benefit of doing it. It always includes an explanation of the purpose of the study (the research objectives) or a definition of the problem.

It systematically outlines the particular research methodology and details the procedures utilized at each stage of the research process.

The end goal of a scientific study is to interpret the results and draw conclusions.

To this end, it is necessary to prepare a report and transmit the findings and recommendations to administrators, policymakers, and program managers to make a decision.

There are various research reports: term papers, dissertations, journal articles , papers for presentation at professional conferences and seminars, books, thesis, and so on. The results of a research investigation prepared in any form are of little utility if they are not communicated to others.

The primary purpose of a dissemination strategy is to identify the most effective media channels to reach different audience groups with study findings most relevant to their needs.

The dissemination may be made through a conference, a seminar, a report, or an oral or poster presentation.

The style and organization of the report will differ according to the target audience , the occasion, and the purpose of the research. Reports should be developed from the client’s perspective.

A report is an excellent means that helps to establish the researcher’s credibility. At a bare minimum, a research report should contain sections on:

  • An executive summary;
  • Background of the problem;
  • Literature review;
  • Methodology;
  • Discussion;
  • Conclusions and
  • Recommendations.

The study results can also be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals published by academic institutions and reputed publishers both at home and abroad. The report should be properly evaluated .

These journals have their format and editorial policies. The contributors can submit their manuscripts adhering to the policies and format for possible publication of their papers.

There are now ample opportunities for researchers to publish their work online.

The researchers have conducted many interesting studies without affecting actual settings. Ideally, the concluding step of a scientific study is to plan for its utilization in the real world.

Although researchers are often not in a position to implement a plan for utilizing research findings, they can contribute by including in their research reports a few recommendations regarding how the study results could be utilized for policy formulation and program intervention.

Why is the dissemination of research findings important?

Dissemination of research findings is crucial because the results of a research investigation have little utility if not communicated to others. Dissemination ensures that the findings reach relevant stakeholders, policymakers, and program managers to inform decisions.

How should a research report be structured?

A research report should contain sections on an executive summary, background of the problem, literature review, methodology, findings, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations.

Why is it essential to consider the target audience when preparing a research report?

The style and organization of a research report should differ based on the target audience, occasion, and research purpose. Tailoring the report to the audience ensures that the findings are communicated effectively and are relevant to their needs.

Now that you are familiar with research process; explore complete guideline on research and research methodology concepts .

  • Education Research: Definition, Examples
  • Legal Research Design and Structure [11 Elements]
  • Observation Method of Data Collection: Advantages, Disadvantages, Techniques, Types
  • Evaluative Research: Definition, Examples
  • Thurstone Scale: Definition, Example
  • Semantic Differential: Definition, Example
  • Validity in Experimentation
  • Top 10 Trending Research Topics to Write About
  • Design Effect: Definition, Examples
  • Population Research: Definition, Examples
  • Writing a Research Report
  • Level of Measurement: 4 Scales of Measurement
  • Exploratory Research: Definition, Types, Examples
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Process, Design, Methods
  • Non-Probability Sampling

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7 Steps Research Process Outline to Conduct a Research

Abdul Awal

The research process involves a number of distinct steps in research work. The research process begins when the investigation starts. It ends with the reporting of the research findings. A researcher goes through the entire process while conducting research. In this post, I do describe conspicuously the research process outline and steps in order to provide the complete guidelines on how do you conduct your research work efficiently. It is so significant here that the success of the research study depends on the exact execution of each step seriously.

What is the Research Process?

The  Research Process  is a process of multiple scientific steps in conducting the research work. Each step is interlinked with other steps. The process starts with the research problem at first. Then it advances in the next steps sequentially. Generally, a researcher conducts research work within seven steps. In research work, primarily, you require a Research Proposal . It is because the proposal approves the research project whether you achieve the ability to conduct research or not. So when you write a research proposal, present the detailed plans and specific objectives of your research correctly.

7 Steps Research Process Outline

The research process outline means the total research process steps of how do you conduct research. Therefore, here is a checklist of the seven research process steps. It normally takes the following 7 steps in a sequential manner. So, look at the research process outline & steps.

Step-1: Defining the Research Problem

All research sets in a research problem definitely. Factual ignorance may be the research problem. We would simply intend to enrich our knowledge of social processes or institutions. A researcher may investigate to answer the questions, for example, “How technology affects the socialization process?” “How do women’s employment improve women’s empowerment?”

However, the research problem comes up with the ongoing phenomenon or issues. One research project may significantly lead to another research work. Because it explores issues that the researcher did not think about previously.

Step-2: Review of Literature

Once the research problem is defined, the next step is to review the existing research evidence. To clarify that to study the available research resources related to the problem. For example, it may be the previous research that has already made a clear statement of the problem. The researcher takes into account how useful the previous research that exists. Did previous researchers investigate the same problem? How do they resolve it? What aspects of the problem have remained unsolved? Go through How to Review the Literature for Your Research  to learn more details. Keep in mind that how richer your literature is, the better your research will be.

Step-3: Formulating a Hypothesis

In this step, the researcher makes the problem precise. What the researcher intends to test? What is the relationship between variables? Specify your Independent & Dependent variables.

Then the researcher steps forward to how the problem would be approached? The nature of the research problem can decide to formulate a definite hypothesis. A hypothesis is tested. Effective research work formulates a hypothesis in such a way that collected factual data will provide evidence that either supports or disproves them. Formulation of Hypothesis in Research  will make you more expert. In the end, the hypothesis turns into a practical theory.

Step-4: Research Design

The researcher then must find out a research design. Research design decides how the research materials will be collected. One or more research methods, for example, experiment, survey, interview, etc are chosen depending on the research objectives. In some research contexts, a survey may be suitable. In other facts, interviews or case studies or observations might be more appropriate. Find the ways How to Choose a Research Design? Research Design actually provides insights into “how” to conduct research using a particular  Research Methodology . Basically, every researcher has a list of research questions that need to be assessed that can be done with research design.

Step-5: Carry out the Research Process

While the research design is decided, then the researcher collects data, records information. The researcher proceeds with the research. Practical difficulties may arise in this stage. For example, the research method may not suit properly. The interviewer might be unwilling to let carry out the research as planned. Moreover, a false interpretation could potentially bias the result of the study. So, when you collect data, you need to know the effective techniques of data collection in order to gather necessary and relevant information with regard to research.

Step-6: Preparing Research Results

Now work out the implications of the data you gathered. Your challenges are not over yet. Rather problems might just begin! It is hardly easy to clear out the implications of the gathered materials. While it is possible to clarify the research questions, some investigations are less conclusive. So, interpret your research results in order to report the findings.

No matter what kind of research you are doing, there comes a moment when your head is full of ideas that originated from your analysis. Ideally, you’ll write them down as they come to you. Now you need to convert the mass of those elements and ideas into a written text that makes sense to the reader and can do justice to your quest.

Step-7: Reporting Research Findings

The final step of the research process outline is to report the research findings. Describe the significance of the research study. Work out how do they relate to the previous research findings. Usually, the research report published as a journal article or book. This is the last stage in terms of the individual research project. Mostly, a research report discusses questions that remained unanswered & suggests further research in the future in general.

This also signifies how do you write your research paper. You must write your research findings in a proper way. So, I do suggest going through Research Report Writing Steps with Format .

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The 5 Steps of the Research Process | Helpfull

Knowing how each of the 5 phases of the research process work in tandem helps keep your project on track.

What is the Research Process?

Research Process

The research process outlines the key steps taken in order to complete a thorough and procedurally sound research project. Knowing how each of the 5 phases of the research process work in tandem helps keep the project on track.

The first step of the research process identifies the problem or topic that is going to be studied. From there, the proceeding steps take the researcher through various models and methodologies designed to bring about quality, valid data.

The 5 Steps of the Research Process

The research process can be broken down into 5 simple and clearly defined stages. Understanding how these steps flow will enable you to generate stronger results; make sure to review them before you develop your methodology. It will save you a lot of time and frustration down the line.

  • Defining the Problem

This is where you state the issue. In the form of a hypothesis, researchers make a judgement about the world around them; trying to either improve an existing condition, streamline a process, or probe a question for deeper thought. 

A good research problem should seek to find answers for a clear and specific issue. Issues like:

“Do our customers have difficulty purchasing our product from our website?” or 

“Will changing our brand logo design improve customer favorability?” 

The more issues one question seeks to address, the less likely you are to collect quality research data.

Remember to keep your problem specific and concise. You can always run more tests if you need to address multiple research questions. This keeps your data organized, and is the best practice for ensuring the integrity of your results.

  • Designing your Research Project

The next step in your research process is to develop a framework. This can involve creating a research plan, or developing a step-by-step methodology for how you plan to approach your research. These outlines will frame your work as you progress through the actual testing process; ensuring you’re getting all of the critical information you need to properly develop your data.

Generally, designing a research project involves completing many of these objective-driven activities:

  • Researching primary and secondary sources
  • Defining the scope of your research project
  • Selecting the right tools and applications for conducting and analyzing research
  • Designing surveys and questionnaires
  • Choose a target audience for your research
  • Plan for data analysis
  • Create a research deadline

Once your research project has been clearly defined and your audience has been selected, you’re ready to begin testing.

  • Collecting the Data

This is where your research study officially begins. The data collection process is a crucial step in providing the information you need to address your research question. It begins with defining the concepts that will be researched; what happens next are the research collection steps you outlined in the previous step. Oftentimes, researchers will invite participants to engage in their tests. These tests can be something as simple as a survey, or require activities as lengthy and complex as a one-on-one interview, or a user experience test.

Researchers will sometimes choose to passively observe a case, instead of actively involving themselves in a phenomenon. This type of observational study is useful in cases where researchers are resource-limited, or want to learn more about events that have happened in the past.

Remember to stick to the processes you’ve outlined in step 2, and you’re well on your way to success. 

Data collection method in Research Process

Data analysis begins when all results have been collected and the testing process is complete. This can often be the most lengthy and labor-intensive part of the research process. It requires careful thought and attention be paid to following the data analysis plan developed in step 2; as well as making accommodations to the plan where necessary.

After the data set has been properly reviewed, researchers measure their results against previous experiments and data sets - trying to establish a statistical significance. 

Data analysis in Research Process

  • Data Visualization and Reporting

The final and perhaps most vital part of your research process involves taking your data and making it accessible to non-researchers. For the most part, you should have already synthesized your data into an answer that either rejects or supports your initial hypothesis. This conclusion can take the form of a blanket generalization, a new formula, or a recommendation for actions to take.

The way you choose to report your findings can have a tremendous impact on how your results are received. Scientific reports are often published in formal science journals as peer-reviewed studies; whereas business research may be reported in a video or presentation format. Whenever you encounter a snag in your research process, remember to: plan ahead, get advice from your fellow researchers, and stick to your research plan.

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Scientific and Scholarly Writing

  • Literature Searches
  • Tracking and Citing References

Parts of a Scientific & Scholarly Paper


  • Writing Effectively
  • Where to Publish?
  • Capstone Resources

Different sections are needed in different types of scientific papers (lab reports, literature reviews, systematic reviews, methods papers, research papers, etc.). Projects that overlap with the social sciences or humanities may have different requirements. Generally, however, you'll need to include:


METHODS SECTION (Materials and Methods)

What is a title

Titles have two functions: to identify the main topic or the message of the paper and to attract readers.

The title will be read by many people. Only a few will read the entire paper, therefore all words in the title should be chosen with care. Too short a title is not helpful to the potential reader. Too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Neither is a title a sentence.

What makes a good title?

A good title is accurate, complete, and specific. Imagine searching for your paper in PubMed. What words would you use?

  • Use the fewest possible words that describe the contents of the paper.
  • Avoid waste words like "Studies on", or "Investigations on".
  • Use specific terms rather than general.
  • Use the same key terms in the title as the paper.
  • Watch your word order and syntax.

The abstract is a miniature version of your paper. It should present the main story and a few essential details of the paper for readers who only look at the abstract and should serve as a clear preview for readers who read your whole paper. They are usually short (250 words or less).

The goal is to communicate:

  •  What was done?
  •  Why was it done?
  •  How was it done?
  •  What was found?

A good abstract is specific and selective. Try summarizing each of the sections of your paper in a sentence two. Do the abstract last, so you know exactly what you want to write.

  • Use 1 or more well developed paragraphs.
  • Use introduction/body/conclusion structure.
  • Present purpose, results, conclusions and recommendations in that order.
  • Make it understandable to a wide audience.
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Parts of a Research Paper

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  • 1 Parts of a Research Paper: Definition
  • 3 Research Paper Structure
  • 4 Research Paper Examples
  • 5 Research Paper APA Formatting
  • 6 In a Nutshell

Parts of a Research Paper: Definition

The point of having specifically defined parts of a research paper is not to make your life as a student harder. In fact, it’s very much the opposite. The different parts of a research paper have been established to provide a structure that can be consistently used to make your research projects easier, as well as helping you follow the proper scientific methodology.

This will help guide your writing process so you can focus on key elements one at a time. It will also provide a valuable outline that you can rely on to effectively structure your assignment. Having a solid structure will make your research paper easier to understand, and it will also prepare you for a possible future as a researcher, since all modern science is created around similar precepts.

Have you been struggling with your academic homework lately, especially where it concerns all the different parts of a research paper? This is actually a very common situation, so we have prepared this article to outline all the key parts of a research paper and explain what you must focus as you go through each one of the various parts of a research paper; read the following sections and you should have a clearer idea of how to tackle your next research paper effectively.

What are the main parts of a research paper?

There are eight main parts in a research paper :

  • Title (cover page)


  • Literature review
  • Research methodology
  • Data analysis
  • Reference page

If you stick to this structure, your end product will be a concise, well-organized research paper.

Do you have to follow the exact research paper structure?

Yes, and failing to do so will likely impact your grade very negatively. It’s very important to write your research paper according to the structure given on this article. Follow your research paper outline   to avoid a messy structure. Different types of academic papers have very particular structures. For example, the structure required for a literature review is very different to the structure required for a scientific research paper.

What if I'm having trouble with certain parts of a research paper?

If you’re having problems with some parts of a research paper, it will be useful to look at some examples of finished research papers in a similar field of study, so you will have a better idea of the elements you need to include. Read a step-by-step guide for writing a research paper , or take a look at the section towards the end of this article for some research paper examples. Perhaps you’re just lacking inspiration!

Is there a special formatting you need to use when citing sources?

Making adequate citations to back up your research is a key consideration in almost every part of a research paper. There are various formatting conventions and referencing styles that should be followed as specified in your assignment. The most common is APA formatting, but you could also be required to use MLA formatting. Your professor or supervisor should tell you which one you need to use.

What should I do once I have my research paper outlined?

If you have created your research paper outline, then you’re ready to start writing. Remember, the first copy will be a draft, so don’t leave it until the last minute to begin writing. Check out some tips for overcoming writer’s block if you’re having trouble getting started.

Research Paper Structure

There are 8 parts of a research paper that you should go through in this order:

The very first page in your research paper should be used to identify its title, along with your name, the date of your assignment, and your learning institution. Additional elements may be required according to the specifications of your instructors, so it’s a good idea to check with them to make sure you feature all the required information in the right order. You will usually be provided with a template or checklist of some kind that you can refer to when writing your cover page .

This is the very beginning of your research paper, where you are expected to provide your thesis statement ; this is simply a summary of what you’re setting out to accomplish with your research project, including the problems you’re looking to scrutinize and any solutions or recommendations that you anticipate beforehand.

Literature Review

This part of a research paper is supposed to provide the theoretical framework that you elaborated during your research. You will be expected to present the sources you have studied while preparing for the work ahead, and these sources should be credible from an academic standpoint (including educational books, peer-reviewed journals, and other relevant publications). You must make sure to include the name of the relevant authors you’ve studied and add a properly formatted citation that explicitly points to their works you have analyzed, including the publication year (see the section below on APA style citations ).

Research Methodology

Different parts of a research paper have different aims, and here you need to point out the exact methods you have used in the course of your research work. Typical methods can range from direct observation to laboratory experiments, or statistical evaluations. Whatever your chosen methods are, you will need to explicitly point them out in this section.

Data Analysis

While all the parts of a research paper are important, this section is probably the most crucial from a practical standpoint. Out of all the parts of a research paper, here you will be expected to analyze the data you have obtained in the course of your research. This is where you get your chance to really shine, by introducing new data that may contribute to building up on the collective understanding of the topics you have researched. At this point, you’re not expected to analyze your data yet (that will be done in the subsequent parts of a research paper), but simply to present it objectively.

From all the parts of a research paper, this is the one where you’re expected to actually analyze the data you have gathered while researching. This analysis should align with your previously stated methodology, and it should both point out any implications suggested by your data that might be relevant to different fields of study, as well as any shortcomings in your approach that would allow you to improve you results if you were to repeat the same type of research.

As you conclude your research paper, you should succinctly reiterate your thesis statement along with your methodology and analyzed data – by drawing all these elements together you will reach the purpose of your research, so all that is left is to point out your conclusions in a clear manner.

Reference Page

The very last section of your research paper is a reference page where you should collect the academic sources along with all the publications you consulted, while fleshing out your research project. You should make sure to list all these references according to the citation format specified by your instructor; there are various formats now in use, such as MLA, Harvard and APA, which although similar rely on different citation styles that must be consistently and carefully observed.


Paper printing & binding

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Research Paper Examples

When you’re still learning about the various parts that make up a research paper, it can be useful to go through some examples of actual research papers from your exact field of study. This is probably the best way to fully grasp what is the purpose of all the different parts.

We can’t provide you universal examples of all the parts of a research paper, since some of these parts can be very different depending on your field of study.

To get a clear sense of what you should cover in each part of your paper, we recommend you to find some successful research papers in a similar field of study. Often, you may be able to refer to studies you have gathered during the initial literature review.

There are also some templates online that may be useful to look at when you’re just getting started, and trying to grasp the exact requirements for each part in your research paper:


Research Paper APA Formatting

When you write a research paper for college, you will have to make sure to add relevant citation to back up your major claims. Only by building up on the work of established authors will you be able to reach valuable conclusions that can be taken seriously on a academic context. This process may seem burdensome at first, but it’s one of the essential parts of a research paper.

The essence of a citation is simply to point out where you learned about the concepts and ideas that make up all the parts of a research paper. This is absolutely essential, both to substantiate your points and to allow other researchers to look into those sources in cause they want to learn more about some aspects of your assignment, or dig deeper into specific parts of a research paper.

There are several citation styles in modern use, and APA citation is probably the most common and widespread; you must follow this convention precisely when adding citations to the relevant part of a research paper. Here is how you should format a citation according to the APA style.

In a Nutshell

  • There are eight different parts of a research paper that you will have to go through in this specific order.
  • Make sure to focus on the different parts of a research paper one at a time, and you’ll find it can actually make the writing process much easier.
  • Producing a research paper can be a very daunting task unless you have a solid plan of action; that is exactly why most modern learning institutions now demand students to observe all these parts of a research paper.
  • These guidelines are not meant to make student’s lives harder, but actually to help them stay focused and produce articulate and thoughtful research that could make an impact in their fields of study.

Discover more useful articles:


What is works cited? We will give you some information:


In this article we give you information about thesis format:


What you should know about an APA format title page:


This article gives some information about a thesis defense:

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What Are Clinical Trials and Studies?

On this page:

What is clinical research?

Why participate in a clinical trial, what happens in a clinical trial or study, what happens when a clinical trial or study ends, what are the different phases of clinical trials, questions to ask before participating in clinical research, how do researchers decide who will participate, clinical research needs participants with diverse backgrounds.

By participating in clinical research, you can help scientists develop new medications and other strategies to treat and prevent disease. Many effective treatments that are used today, such as chemotherapy, cholesterol-lowering drugs, vaccines, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, would not exist without research participants. Whether you’re healthy or have a medical condition, people of all ages and backgrounds can participate in clinical trials. This article can help you learn more about clinical research, why people choose to participate, and how to get involved in a study.

Mr. Jackson's story

Mr. Jackson is 73 years old and was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease . He is worried about how it will affect his daily life. Will he forget to take his medicine? Will he forget his favorite memories, like the births of his children or hiking the Appalachian Trail? When Mr. Jackson talked to his doctor about his concerns, she told him about a clinical trial that is testing a possible new Alzheimer’s treatment. But Mr. Jackson has concerns about clinical trials. He does not want to feel like a lab rat or take the chance of getting a treatment that may not work or could make him feel worse. The doctor explained that there are both risks and benefits to being part of a clinical trial, and she talked with Mr. Jackson about research studies — what they are, how they work, and why they need volunteers. This information helped Mr. Jackson feel better about clinical trials. He plans to learn more about how to participate.

Clinical research is the study of health and illness in people. There are two main types of clinical research: observational studies and clinical trials.

Clinical Trials infographic

Observational studies monitor people in normal settings. Researchers gather information from people and compare changes over time. For example, researchers may ask a group of older adults about their exercise habits and provide monthly memory tests for a year to learn how physical activity is associated with cognitive health . Observational studies do not test a medical intervention, such as a drug or device, but may help identify new treatments or prevention strategies to test in clinical trials.

Clinical trials are research studies that test a medical, surgical, or behavioral intervention in people. These trials are the primary way that researchers determine if a new form of treatment or prevention, such as a new drug, diet, or medical device (for example, a pacemaker), is safe and effective in people. Often, a clinical trial is designed to learn if a new treatment is more effective or has less harmful side effects than existing treatments.

Other aims of clinical research include:

  • Testing ways to diagnose a disease early, sometimes before there are symptoms
  • Finding approaches to prevent a health problem, including in people who are healthy but at increased risk of developing a disease
  • Improving quality of life for people living with a life-threatening disease or chronic health problem
  • Studying the role of caregivers or support groups

Learn more about clinical research from MedlinePlus and .

Why join a clinical trial or study? infographic. Open transcript for full description

People volunteer for clinical trials and studies for a variety of reasons, including:

  • They want to contribute to discovering health information that may help others in the future.
  • Participating in research helps them feel like they are playing a more active role in their health.
  • The treatments they have tried for their health problem did not work or there is no treatment for their health problem.

Whatever the motivation, when you choose to participate in a clinical trial, you become a partner in scientific discovery. Participating in research can help future generations lead healthier lives. Major medical breakthroughs could not happen without the generosity of clinical trial participants — young and old, healthy, or diagnosed with a disease.

Where can I find a clinical trial?

Looking for clinical trials related to aging and age-related health conditions? Talk to your health care provider and use online resources to:

  • Search for a clinical trial
  • Look for clinical trials on Alzheimer's, other dementias, and caregiving
  • Find a registry for a particular diagnosis or condition
  • Explore clinical trials and studies supported by NIA

After you find one or more studies that you are interested in, the next step is for you or your doctor to contact the study research staff and ask questions. You can usually find contact information in the description of the study.

Let your health care provider know if you are thinking about joining a clinical trial. Your provider may want to talk to the research team to make sure the study is safe for you and to help coordinate your care.

Joining a clinical trial is a personal decision with potential benefits and some risks. Learn what happens in a clinical trial and how participant safety is protected . Read and listen to testimonials from people who decided to participate in research.

Here’s what typically happens in a clinical trial or study:

  • Research staff explain the trial or study in detail, answer your questions, and gather more information about you.
  • Once you agree to participate, you sign an informed consent form indicating your understanding about what to expect as a participant and the various outcomes that could occur.
  • You are screened to make sure you qualify for the trial or study.
  • If accepted into the trial, you schedule a first visit, which is called the “baseline” visit. The researchers conduct cognitive and/or physical tests during this visit.
  • For some trials testing an intervention, you are assigned by chance (randomly) to a treatment group or a control group . The treatment group will get the intervention being tested, and the control group will not.
  • You follow the trial procedures and report any issues or concerns to researchers.
  • You may visit the research site at regularly scheduled times for new cognitive, physical, or other evaluations and discussions with staff. During these visits, the research team collects data and monitors your safety and well-being.
  • You continue to see your regular physician(s) for usual health care throughout the study.

How do researchers decide which interventions are safe to test in people?

Before a clinical trial is designed and launched, scientists perform laboratory tests and often conduct studies in animals to test a potential intervention’s safety and effectiveness. If these studies show favorable results, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the intervention to be tested in humans. Learn more about how the safety of clinical trial participants is protected.

Once a clinical trial or study ends, the researchers analyze the data to determine what the findings mean and to plan the next steps. As a participant, you should be provided information before the study starts about how long it will last, whether you will continue receiving the treatment after the trial ends (if applicable), and how the results of the research will be shared. If you have specific questions about what will happen when the trial or study ends, ask the research coordinator or staff.

Clinical trials of drugs and medical devices advance through several phases to test safety, determine effectiveness, and identify any side effects. The FDA typically requires Phase 1, 2, and 3 trials to be conducted to determine if the drug or device can be approved for further use. If researchers find the intervention to be safe and effective after the first three phases, the FDA approves it for clinical use and continues to monitor its effects.

Each phase has a different purpose:

  • A Phase 1 trial tests an experimental drug or device on a small group of people (around 20 to 80) to judge its safety, including any side effects, and to test the amount (dosage).
  • A Phase 2 trial includes more people (around 100 to 300) to help determine whether a drug is effective. This phase aims to obtain preliminary data on whether the drug or device works in people who have a certain disease or condition. These trials also continue to examine safety, including short-term side effects.
  • A Phase 3 trial gathers additional information from several hundred to a few thousand people about safety and effectiveness, studying different populations and different dosages, and comparing the intervention with other drugs or treatment approaches. If the FDA agrees that the trial results support the intervention’s use for a particular health condition, it will approve the experimental drug or device.
  • A Phase 4 trial takes place after the FDA approves the drug or device. The treatment’s effectiveness and safety are monitored in large, diverse populations. Sometimes, side effects may not become clear until more people have used the drug or device over a longer period of time.

Clinical trials that test a behavior change, rather than a drug or medical device, advance through similar steps, but behavioral interventions are not regulated by the FDA. Learn more about clinical trials , including the types of trials and the four phases.

Choosing to participate in research is an important personal decision. If you are considering joining a trial or study, get answers to your questions and know your options before you decide. Here are questions you might ask the research team when thinking about participating.

  • What is this study trying to find out?
  • What treatment or tests will I have? Will they hurt? Will you provide me with the test or lab results?
  • What are the chances I will be in the experimental group or the control group?
  • If the study tests a treatment, what are the possible risks, side effects, and benefits compared with my current treatment?
  • How long will the clinical trial last?
  • Where will the study take place? Will I need to stay in the hospital?
  • Will you provide a way for me to get to the study site if I need it, such as through a ride-share service?
  • Will I need a trial or study partner (for example, a family member or friend who knows me well) to come with me to the research site visits? If so, how long will he or she need to participate?
  • Can I participate in any part of the trial with my regular doctor or at a clinic closer to my home?
  • How will the study affect my everyday life?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure my privacy?
  • How will you protect my health while I participate?
  • What happens if my health problem gets worse during the trial or study?
  • Can I take my regular medicines while participating?
  • Who will be in charge of my care while I am in the trial or study? Will I be able to see my own doctors?
  • How will you keep my doctor informed about my participation?
  • If I withdraw from the trial or study, will this affect my normal care?
  • Will it cost me anything to be in the trial or study? If so, will I be reimbursed for expenses, such as travel, parking, lodging, or meals?
  • Will my insurance pay for costs not covered by the research, or must I pay out of pocket? If I don’t have insurance, am I still eligible to participate?
  • Will my trial or study partner be compensated for his or her time?
  • Will you follow up on my health after the end of the trial or study?
  • Will I continue receiving the treatment after the trial or study ends?
  • Will you tell me the results of the research?
  • Whom do I contact if I have questions after the trial or study ends?

Older man asking a researcher questions about clinical trials

To be eligible to participate, you may need to have certain characteristics, called inclusion criteria. For example, a clinical trial may need participants to have a certain stage of disease, version of a gene, or family history. Some trials require that participants have a study partner who can accompany them to clinic visits.

Participants with certain characteristics may not be allowed to participate in some trials. These characteristics are called exclusion criteria. They include factors such as specific health conditions or medications that could interfere with the treatment being tested.

Many volunteers must be screened to find enough people who are eligible for a trial or study. Generally, you can participate in only one clinical trial at a time, although this is not necessarily the case for observational studies. Different trials have different criteria, so being excluded from one trial does not necessarily mean you will be excluded from another.

Older Asian couple

Researchers need older adults to participate in clinical research so that scientists can learn more about how new drugs, tests, and other interventions will work for them. Many older adults have health needs that are different from those of younger people. For example, as people age, their bodies may react differently to certain drugs. Older adults may need different dosages of a drug to have the intended result. Also, some drugs may have different side effects in older people than in younger individuals. Having older adults enrolled in clinical trials and studies helps researchers get the information they need to develop the right treatments for this age group.

Researchers know that it may be challenging for some older adults to join a clinical trial or study. For example, if you have multiple health problems, can you participate in research that is looking at only one condition? If you are frail or have a disability, will you be strong enough to participate? If you no longer drive, how can you get to the research site? Talk to the research coordinator or staff about your concerns. The research team may have already thought about some of the potential obstacles and have a plan to make it easier for you to participate.

Read more about diversity in clinical trials .

You may also be interested in

  • Learning more about the benefits, risks, and safety of clinical research
  • Finding out about participating in Alzheimer's disease research
  • Downloading or sharing an infographic with the benefits of participating in clinical research

Sign up for email updates on healthy aging

For more information about clinical trials. Explore the website for information and resources on Alzheimer’s and related dementias from across the federal government.

Clinical Research Trials and You National Institutes of Health 

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

Content reviewed: March 22, 2023

An official website of the National Institutes of Health

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Home Market Research

What is Research: Definition, Methods, Types & Examples

What is Research

The search for knowledge is closely linked to the object of study; that is, to the reconstruction of the facts that will provide an explanation to an observed event and that at first sight can be considered as a problem. It is very human to seek answers and satisfy our curiosity. Let’s talk about research.

Content Index

What is Research?

What are the characteristics of research.

  • Comparative analysis chart

Qualitative methods

Quantitative methods, 8 tips for conducting accurate research.

Research is the careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or research problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves inductive and deductive methods.”

Inductive methods analyze an observed event, while deductive methods verify the observed event. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research , and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative analysis .

Research is conducted with a purpose to:

  • Identify potential and new customers
  • Understand existing customers
  • Set pragmatic goals
  • Develop productive market strategies
  • Address business challenges
  • Put together a business expansion plan
  • Identify new business opportunities
  • Good research follows a systematic approach to capture accurate data. Researchers need to practice ethics and a code of conduct while making observations or drawing conclusions.
  • The analysis is based on logical reasoning and involves both inductive and deductive methods.
  • Real-time data and knowledge is derived from actual observations in natural settings.
  • There is an in-depth analysis of all data collected so that there are no anomalies associated with it.
  • It creates a path for generating new questions. Existing data helps create more research opportunities.
  • It is analytical and uses all the available data so that there is no ambiguity in inference.
  • Accuracy is one of the most critical aspects of research. The information must be accurate and correct. For example, laboratories provide a controlled environment to collect data. Accuracy is measured in the instruments used, the calibrations of instruments or tools, and the experiment’s final result.

What is the purpose of research?

There are three main purposes:

  • Exploratory: As the name suggests, researchers conduct exploratory studies to explore a group of questions. The answers and analytics may not offer a conclusion to the perceived problem. It is undertaken to handle new problem areas that haven’t been explored before. This exploratory data analysis process lays the foundation for more conclusive data collection and analysis.

LEARN ABOUT: Descriptive Analysis

  • Descriptive: It focuses on expanding knowledge on current issues through a process of data collection. Descriptive research describe the behavior of a sample population. Only one variable is required to conduct the study. The three primary purposes of descriptive studies are describing, explaining, and validating the findings. For example, a study conducted to know if top-level management leaders in the 21st century possess the moral right to receive a considerable sum of money from the company profit.

LEARN ABOUT: Best Data Collection Tools

  • Explanatory: Causal research or explanatory research is conducted to understand the impact of specific changes in existing standard procedures. Running experiments is the most popular form. For example, a study that is conducted to understand the effect of rebranding on customer loyalty.

Here is a comparative analysis chart for a better understanding:

It begins by asking the right questions and choosing an appropriate method to investigate the problem. After collecting answers to your questions, you can analyze the findings or observations to draw reasonable conclusions.

When it comes to customers and market studies, the more thorough your questions, the better the analysis. You get essential insights into brand perception and product needs by thoroughly collecting customer data through surveys and questionnaires . You can use this data to make smart decisions about your marketing strategies to position your business effectively.

To make sense of your study and get insights faster, it helps to use a research repository as a single source of truth in your organization and manage your research data in one centralized data repository .

Types of research methods and Examples

what is research

Research methods are broadly classified as Qualitative and Quantitative .

Both methods have distinctive properties and data collection methods.

Qualitative research is a method that collects data using conversational methods, usually open-ended questions . The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method helps a researcher understand what participants think and why they think in a particular way.

Types of qualitative methods include:

  • One-to-one Interview
  • Focus Groups
  • Ethnographic studies
  • Text Analysis

Quantitative methods deal with numbers and measurable forms . It uses a systematic way of investigating events or data. It answers questions to justify relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict, or control a phenomenon.

Types of quantitative methods include:

  • Survey research
  • Descriptive research
  • Correlational research

LEARN MORE: Descriptive Research vs Correlational Research

Remember, it is only valuable and useful when it is valid, accurate, and reliable. Incorrect results can lead to customer churn and a decrease in sales.

It is essential to ensure that your data is:

  • Valid – founded, logical, rigorous, and impartial.
  • Accurate – free of errors and including required details.
  • Reliable – other people who investigate in the same way can produce similar results.
  • Timely – current and collected within an appropriate time frame.
  • Complete – includes all the data you need to support your business decisions.

Gather insights

What is a research - tips

  • Identify the main trends and issues, opportunities, and problems you observe. Write a sentence describing each one.
  • Keep track of the frequency with which each of the main findings appears.
  • Make a list of your findings from the most common to the least common.
  • Evaluate a list of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats identified in a SWOT analysis .
  • Prepare conclusions and recommendations about your study.
  • Act on your strategies
  • Look for gaps in the information, and consider doing additional inquiry if necessary
  • Plan to review the results and consider efficient methods to analyze and interpret results.

Review your goals before making any conclusions about your study. Remember how the process you have completed and the data you have gathered help answer your questions. Ask yourself if what your analysis revealed facilitates the identification of your conclusions and recommendations.



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Customer Interactions: What Is It, Importance, Tips & Benefits

Nov 17, 2023

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Frontline Employees: Who They Are + Tips to Motivate Them

Explore the distinctions between hard data vs soft data. Uncover the nuances that differentiate these two types of information.

Hard Data vs Soft Data: Explanation and Differences

Nov 16, 2023

A research hypothesis proposes a link between variables. Uncover its types and the secrets to creating hypotheses for scientific inquiry.

Research Hypothesis: What It Is, Types + How to Develop?

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Co-workers on computers and white boards, implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) strategy, often referred to as ERP to streamline their organization’s needs through automation and integration

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, is a business management software system designed to manage and streamline an organization’s functions, processes and workflows with automation and integration.

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A term coined by  Gartner in the 1990s , an ERP software system is designed to manage all parts of a business—finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement,  supply chain management , product lifecycle management, project management and more—making it an essential part of an organization’s day-to-day business operation. ERP software consists of business applications that are all connected and share one common database, therefore decreasing the number of resources necessary to run the business end to end.

The business applications, known as enterprise modules, each focus on a a specific business area but work together to meet the company’s needs. Since businesses range in size and needs, and no two are alike, modules are not one-size-fits-all. A company can pick and choose which modules are best suited for their business..

The best way an enterprise resource planning system can deliver the most value is when a company takes advantage of modules for each business function. By having a central location for all business data, ERP implementation cuts out the silos that complicate data collection and create data duplication challenges for many businesses. The new system (the ERP model) serves as a single-source-of-truth software solution.

ERP software systems come in three different forms:

- A cloud subscription model ( software as a service )

- A licensing model (on premises)

- A hybrid model

Read on for more detail on these three systems and the different modules commonly available with an ERP software management system.

There are three types of ERP software systems: on-site systems, cloud-based systems and hybrid systems. They all differ from one another and have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what the needs of the business are and how the business chooses to approach the ERP model. Any of these enterprise resource planning software systems can help a company in decision-making and profitability.

On-site ERP:  This software, also referred to as on-premises ERP, is deployed onsite and is mostly controlled in house, or by the company’s enterprise. A business would choose this option if the business wanted to be in total control of the ERP software and security. If you were to go with this ERP software option, it would require a dedicated IT resource on-premises to handle the technical and application maintenance.

Cloud-based ERP:  The cloud-based ERP system, often referred to as software as a service, or SaaS, means a third party is managing the ERP software in the cloud. Using technologies such as  artificial intelligence  (AI) and  machine learning , this flexible option system can provide greater automation efficiencies and allow employees to search through organizational data on any device through the internet. IBM, Infor, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP offer new ERP solutions.

This is a popular model for ERP software due to its scalability and agility, along with its lower cost. The main disadvantage is the security risk you take when trusting an ERP vendor. The data for your business is sensitive and requires careful handling.

Hybrid ERP:  This system is for companies looking for characteristics of both an onsite and SaaS model to meet their business requirements. In this model, some of the ERP applications and data will be on the cloud and some are on premises. This can sometimes be referred to as a two-tier ERP.

ERP systems are based on a variety of different modules that are there to support specific business processes. There are a select number of modules that are foundational to an ERP system and there are third-party applications to access additional features. Some of the most popular modules are listed below and give you deployment options.

Finance and accounting:  The finance and accounting module is often most important to many ERP systems. The main purpose of this module is to help businesses understand their financial outlook and analyze the whole business. The main features of this module are tracking accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR), while also closing the books efficiently and generating financial reports and pricing. This module can automate tasks related to billing and stores crucial financial information for your business, such as vendor payments, cash management and account reconciliation. It also provides clear metrics to a company and can aid in production planning operations.

Procurement:  The procurement module, or purchasing module, helps businesses source materials and services they need to manufacture their goods. This module helps to automate purchasing, along with tracking and analyzing any incoming quotes. With the procurement module companies can maintain a list of vendors and tie suppliers to certain items, which can in turn help develop and manage a good supplier relationship.

Manufacturing:  The manufacturing module, often referred to as a manufacturing execution system, is a vital planning and execution component to ERP software. The module helps manufacturers plan out production and ensures everything needed for production is readily available. A manufacturing module can update the status of goods-in-progress, along with providing real-time information for items in progress or finished goods. The module also typically includes material requirements planning (MRP) solutions, which was the original manufacturing system of toolmaker Black and Decker. 1

Sales:  The sales module is responsible for keeping an open line of communication to customers and prospective customers. It can use data-driven insights to increase sales and make targeted decisions and assist with invoicing when it comes to promotions or upselling opportunities. Other features, including supply chain solutions, offer helpful inventory management and order management include dashboards, greater business intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Customer relationship management:  The  customer relationship management  (CRM) module, or service module, helps companies deliver exceptional service. By storing customer information, such as previous calls, emails and purchase history, a business has the data it needs to better serve current and future customers. This module makes it easy for staff to access the required information when a customer comes in and sees that staff create a customer-specifc experience thanks to the data saved from the ERP software.

Human resources management:  The human resources module maintains basic capabilities, such as time, attendance and payroll. This module maintains data on all employees and stores documents that pertain to each of those employees, such as a performance review or job description. If a company wants, it can have an entire  human capital management  (HCM) suite and connect it to ERP to deliver even stronger HR functionality. 

While stand-alone accounting software and ERP software do present similarly, the two systems are quite different. It comes down to what each software system can do and cover. Accounting software typically covers financial reporting, accounts payable and receivable, banking and basic sales revenue information.

Meanwhile, modern ERP software includes a wide range of modules that can reach every aspect of your business. Accounting is just one module in a long list of other features that ERP technology can provide. The ERP software is built for industry-specific requirements and can be molded to fit almost any company’s needs.

Accounting software has other limitations when it comes to sales and customer relationship management and limited real-time data accessibility. The ERP software has modules specific to sales management and isn’t siloed to what accounting software can do. ERP integrates all financial information into one database and can be done in the cloud for easy accessibility.

If your small business is expanding rapidly, it may outgrow traditional accounting software and the business may want to seek out accounting data in one software package, such as ERP. Having all its data centrally located is key for small and big businesses to gain insights and having a multitude of modules available through an ERP software can help you as your business changes.

The benefits of ERP are wide ranging, with the most prominent being increased productivity, reduced operational cost, flexibility and integrated information. The business intelligence ERP deployment offers is much more substantial than traditional accounting software offerings.offerings.

The need for accurate, real-time data is essential to almost every business, no matter the industry. Here are some businesses that rely on ERP solutions.

Utilities:  A utility company is constantly reviewing its capital assets, therefore, without ERP organizing such assets would be very difficult. The ERP software can also help utility companies forecast demand for future services and replacing aging assets.

Service companies:  Companies such as accounting, tax, engineering and other professional service firms require ERP software that is powerful and delivers real-time data when needed. Professional service businesses can’t afford to experience delays. ERP software helps them stay on schedule while controlling cost and resource utilization.

Wholesalers:  For most wholesaler and importer businesses, reducing distribution costs and increasing inventory are two key elements of success. The best way to keep a business in order and running efficiently is through ERP software with modules customized to its needs. With it, wholesalers can get a handle on inventory management, purchasing and general logistics for their business.

Retail:  A lot of purchasing is done online thanks to e-commerce and other sales channels, which have changed the retail landscape substantially in recent years. Retail businesses are dependent on integrated data as they need ERP software to provide self-service options to customers. The ERP solutions can assist with purchase orders and warehouse management. Retailers can also benefit from ERP to boost their customer return rate and improve webite conversions.

IBM Consulting helps you successfully migrate legacy ERP applications to the cloud, redesign processes to leverage data, AI and automation and transform finance into a competitive advantage within your business.

For nearly four decades, IBM is one of the most significant Oracle partners. IBM offers Oracle services and consulting to clients that includes a roadmap for each stage of their cloud transformation investment, from consulting to cloud implementation to management.

For enterprises looking to accelerate B2B commerce growth, IBM Sterling Order Management enhances customer experiences, helps increase revenue and improves operational margins—all while supporting their sustainability goals.

IBM Consulting is the driving force behind your business transformation journey. Together with strategic partners and service providers, IBM Consulting helps businesses migrate legacy ERP applications to the cloud and redesign processes to leverage data, AI and automation, all to help clients meet their business goals.  

1   MRP, JIT, OPT, FMS?  (link resides outside ibm), Harvard Business Review, September 1985


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Creating an Organizational Culture That’s More Inclusive for Black Employees

  • Adia Harvey Wingfield

research work in order

Giving people space to talk about race really does make a difference.

What comprises an organizational culture that makes Black employees feel welcomed and valued? According to research and in-depth interviews, two qualities stand out, particularly among Black workers in market-focused sectors: the ability to collaborate and the space to be open about race at work. Both are areas where organizations are slowly moving the needle, and they should continue to do so in order to make organizations more racially inclusive.

Organizational culture is a critical part of how companies set norms, values, and expectations. Researchers are now starting to consider how aspects of that culture can function in ways that make it difficult for Black employees to thrive. Sociologist Victor Ray has argued that organizations are structured so that resources, credentials, and rewards maintain racial imbalances. This has implications in medicine , law , business , and other fields, often leaving Black workers marginalized, facing high bars to advancement, or being pushed out altogether. It is also a key aspect of what I refer to as the “gray areas” of work — the social, cultural, and relational dynamics of work that perpetuate racial inequality.

research work in order

  • Adia Harvey Wingfield is a leading sociologist and author who researches racial and gender inequality in professional occupations. Dr. Wingfield is the Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor of Arts & Sciences and Vice Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity at Washington University in St. Louis. She served as President of Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) and the Southern Sociological Society (SSS). her latest book, Flatlining: Race, Work, and Health Care in the New Economy,  won the 2019 C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and she writes regularly for mainstream outlets, including  Slate, The Atlantic,  and  Vox.  She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Immigration Law and Policy Clinic 2023 Highlights

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Sturm College of Law

American flag with immigration services sign and gavel

Eight students enrolled in the University of Denver’s Immigration Law and Policy Clinic (ILPC) this year, continuing the ILPC tradition of representing people from communities of color who face harsh immigration consequences, including detention while their cases are pending due to prior contact with the criminal legal system. The ILPC is representing six clients detained at the private prison run by the GEO Group in Aurora, Colorado, who speak four different languages, as well as two clients who students successfully sought release for during the last academic year.

ILPC student attorneys conduct in-person visits with their clients in order to interview and counsel them, engage in collaboration with other attorneys and experts, investigate facts, and conduct extensive legal research to argue zealously for our clients’ release from detention and/or relief from deportation. ILPC student attorneys regularly appear in immigration court.

student attorneys in law classroom

Building on expertise from representing individual clients, the ILPC engages in a variety of policy projects at the intersection of criminal and immigration law on the local, state, and federal levels. The ILPC also continues being responsive to emerging needs in Colorado’s immigrant communities. To that end, teams of students attended a community workshop for asylum seekers in rural northeastern Colorado. The clinic is also hosting a first-of-its-kind community workshop for Venezuelan community members in Colorado who are newly eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

Finally, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and ILPC Director Elizabeth Jordan recently filed a federal lawsuit against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Freedom of Information Act for failure to respond to multiple requests for information filed by former clinic students Jenny Granston  and Sydney Johnson seeking information about the death of Melvin Calero Mendoza, an asylum seeker who unexpectedly died in ICE custody at the private prison in Aurora in October 2022. Current ILPC student attorneys are studying the death to make policy recommendations about the detention system, including closing that facility due to the risk it poses to detained people’s health and wellbeing. 

Faculty Highlights

Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Elizabeth Jordan “Law Prof Says ICE Denying Info On 'Healthy' Man's Death,” Law360 (October 17, 2023). 

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15 Steps to Good Research

  • Define and articulate a research question (formulate a research hypothesis). How to Write a Thesis Statement (Indiana University)
  • Identify possible sources of information in many types and formats. Georgetown University Library's Research & Course Guides
  • Judge the scope of the project.
  • Reevaluate the research question based on the nature and extent of information available and the parameters of the research project.
  • Select the most appropriate investigative methods (surveys, interviews, experiments) and research tools (periodical indexes, databases, websites).
  • Plan the research project. Writing Anxiety (UNC-Chapel Hill) Strategies for Academic Writing (SUNY Empire State College)
  • Retrieve information using a variety of methods (draw on a repertoire of skills).
  • Refine the search strategy as necessary.
  • Write and organize useful notes and keep track of sources. Taking Notes from Research Reading (University of Toronto) Use a citation manager: Zotero or Refworks
  • Evaluate sources using appropriate criteria. Evaluating Internet Sources
  • Synthesize, analyze and integrate information sources and prior knowledge. Georgetown University Writing Center
  • Revise hypothesis as necessary.
  • Use information effectively for a specific purpose.
  • Understand such issues as plagiarism, ownership of information (implications of copyright to some extent), and costs of information. Georgetown University Honor Council Copyright Basics (Purdue University) How to Recognize Plagiarism: Tutorials and Tests from Indiana University
  • Cite properly and give credit for sources of ideas. MLA Bibliographic Form (7th edition, 2009) MLA Bibliographic Form (8th edition, 2016) Turabian Bibliographic Form: Footnote/Endnote Turabian Bibliographic Form: Parenthetical Reference Use a citation manager: Zotero or Refworks

Adapted from the Association of Colleges and Research Libraries "Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction" , which are more complete and include outcomes. See also the broader "Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education."


  1. Getting Started with SRM

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  2. Order Research Paper Cheap

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  3. The Research Process

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  4. Order Research Paper Cheap

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  6. Research process flowchart showing chapters and interim work products

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  1. Building a Work Order Management System

  2. Work Order Management

  3. New And Improved Work Order. Feature Release

  4. Choosing a Research Topic

  5. Job work order process क्या है in Tally Prime

  6. Professional Insights In Choosing A Research Topic


  1. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 1: Choose your topic Step 2: Identify a problem Step 3: Formulate research questions Step 4: Create a research design Step 5: Write a research proposal Other interesting articles Step 1: Choose your topic First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad.

  2. Basic Steps in the Research Process

    Step 1: Identify and develop your topic Selecting a topic can be the most challenging part of a research assignment. Since this is the very first step in writing a paper, it is vital that it be done correctly. Here are some tips for selecting a topic: Select a topic within the parameters set by the assignment.

  3. Research Process Steps: What they are + How To Follow

    This article explains the research process steps you should know. Whether you are doing basic research or applied research, there are many ways of doing it. In some ways, each research study is unique since it is conducted at a different time and place.

  4. Research Methods

    Primary research is any original data that you collect yourself for the purposes of answering your research question (e.g. through surveys, observations and experiments ). Secondary research is data that has already been collected by other researchers (e.g. in a government census or previous scientific studies).

  5. What Are the Steps of the Research Process? (Plus Tips)

    1. Identify the project topic A successful research process often begins with a clearly defined intent for the research project. You can focus on a topic in nearly any field of study, as the research process broadly applies across all academic and professional fields.

  6. What Is a Research Methodology?

    Revised on June 22, 2023. Your research methodology discusses and explains the data collection and analysis methods you used in your research. A key part of your thesis, dissertation, or research paper, the methodology chapter explains what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to evaluate the reliability and validity of your research ...

  7. Overview of Research Process

    Be clear. It must be understandable to you and to others. Be researchable. It should be capable of developing into a manageable research design, so data may be collected in relation to it. Extremely abstract terms are unlikely to be suitable. Connect with established theory and research.

  8. Research Guides: Start Your Research: Navigating the Research Process

    Develop a Research Question. Somewhere in between your initial idea and settling on a research question, you'll need to do background research on how scholars in a particular subject area have discussed your topic. You may find background research in your textbook or class readings, academic books in the library's collection, or reference sources.

  9. Research Paper Timeline

    Research Paper Timeline - 10 Weeks. Patience is critical to constructing and finishing a solid research paper. Give yourself time. In some cases, when you have a class project, a college research paper requires ten to fourteen weeks of work, but you may take a course requiring a research paper in a shorter time frame. See below to view the ...

  10. how to start research

    research papers but most of the articles fail to teach students the primary need to start a research work. In order to read and write technical or non-technical research work, one have to understand and learn about the skills by which they can start doing research in a particular topic or an area.

  11. 5 Steps in the Research Process

    The five (5) steps in the research process are: [1] Step 1: Locating and Defining Issues or Problems - Understanding the questions that need to be answered or studied. Step 2: Designing the Research Project - Creating a research plan. Step 3: Collecting Data - Obtaining the information needed to solve the identified issue or problem.

  12. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

    Identifying a research problem to investigate usually requires a preliminary search for and review of the literature in order to gain an understanding about how scholars have examined a topic. Scholars rarely structure research studies in a way that can be followed like a story; they are complex and detail-intensive and often written in a ...

  13. How to Write a Research Paper

    The revision process Research paper checklist Free lecture slides Understand the assignment Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  14. Research Process: 8 Steps in Research Process

    The research process aims to identify a research problem, understand its context through a literature review, set research questions and objectives, design a research study, select a sample, collect data, analyze the data, and present the findings in a research report. Why is the research design important in the research process?

  15. 7 Steps Research Process Outline to Conduct a Research

    by Abdul Awal February 28, 2019 The research process involves a number of distinct steps in research work. The research process begins when the investigation starts. It ends with the reporting of the research findings. A researcher goes through the entire process while conducting research.

  16. The 5 Steps of the Research Process

    ‍ What is the Research Process? The research process outlines the key steps taken in order to complete a thorough and procedurally sound research project. Knowing how each of the 5 phases of the research process work in tandem helps keep the project on track.

  17. Parts of the paper

    Watch your word order and syntax. Avoid abbreviations, jargon, and special characters. ... Keep in mind that you may be able to include more of your data in an online journal supplement or research data repository. ... • Discuss the theoretical implications of your work as well as practical applications

  18. Parts of a Research Paper

    What are the main parts of a research paper? There are eight main parts in a research paper: Title (cover page) Introduction Literature review Research methodology Data analysis Results Conclusion Reference page If you stick to this structure, your end product will be a concise, well-organized research paper.

  19. Related Work/Literature Review/Survey Paper: A Collection of Resources

    A scientific literature review (sometimes also called related work or survey paper) is an integral part of: Writing scientific papers. Writing position reports in a non-academic job. Writing your Bachelor/Master/PhD thesis. Here, you will find a collection of resources that should help you in addressing your scholarly needs.

  20. What Are Clinical Trials and Studies?

    Clinical research is the study of health and illness in people. There are two main types of clinical research: observational studies and clinical trials. Read and share this infographic (PDF, 317K) to learn why researchers do different kinds of clinical studies. Observational studies monitor people in normal settings.

  21. How to Improve Your Research Skills: 6 Research Tips

    Here are a few research practices and tips to help you hone your research and writing skills: 1. Start broad, then dive into the specifics. Researching is a big task, so it can be overwhelming to know where to start—there's nothing wrong with a basic internet search to get you started. Online resources like Google and Wikipedia, while not ...

  22. What is Research

    Qualitative research is a method that collects data using conversational methods, usually open-ended questions. The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method helps a researcher understand what participants think and why they think in a particular way. Types of qualitative methods include:

  23. 8 Types Of Research Jobs (With Duties And Average Salary)

    8 Popular Types Of Research Jobs. Here is a list of eight popular types of research jobs for you to explore: 1. Agricultural and food scientist. National average salary: ₹4,80,000 per year Primary duties: Agricultural or food research scientists work to improve and protect agricultural establishments and products. They can work for companies or farms that produce food products to improve ...

  24. What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

    A term coined by Gartner in the 1990s, an ERP software system is designed to manage all parts of a business—finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, supply chain management, product lifecycle management, project management and more—making it an essential part of an organization's day-to-day business operation.ERP software consists of business applications that are ...

  25. Creating an Organizational Culture That's More Inclusive for Black

    Researchers are now starting to consider how aspects of that culture can function in ways that make it difficult for Black employees to thrive. Sociologist Victor Ray has argued that organizations ...

  26. Mechanosensory and command contributions to the Drosophila ...

    Flies groom in response to competing mechanosensory cues in an anterior to posterior order using specific legs. From behavior screens, we identified a pair of cholinergic command-like neurons, Mago-no-Te (MGT), whose optogenetic activation elicits thoracic grooming by hind legs. Thoracic grooming is typically composed of body sweeps and leg rubs in alternation, but clonal analysis coupled with ...

  27. Immigration Law and Policy Clinic 2023 Highlights

    November 15, 2023. Eight students enrolled in the University of Denver's Immigration Law and Policy Clinic (ILPC) this year, continuing the ILPC tradition of representing people from communities of color who face harsh immigration consequences, including detention while their cases are pending due to prior contact with the criminal legal system.

  28. 15 Steps to Good Research

    Judge the scope of the project. Reevaluate the research question based on the nature and extent of information available and the parameters of the research project. Select the most appropriate investigative methods (surveys, interviews, experiments) and research tools (periodical indexes, databases, websites). Plan the research project.