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15 Steps to Good Research

  1. Define and articulate a research question (formulate a research hypothesis).
    How to Write a Thesis Statement (Indiana University)
  2. Identify possible sources of information in many types and formats.
    Georgetown University Library's Guides to Resources by Subject
  3. Judge the scope of the project.
  4. Reevaluate the research question based on the nature and extent of information available and the parameters of the research project.
  5. Select the most appropriate investigative methods (surveys, interviews, experiments) and research tools (periodical indexes, databases, websites).
  6. Plan the research project.
    Overcoming Procrastination (University of Illinois)
  7. Retrieve information using a variety of methods (draw on a repertoire of skills).
  8. Refine the search strategy as necessary.
  9. Write and organize useful notes and keep track of sources.
    Taking Notes from Research Reading (University of Toronto)
    RefWorks
  10. Evaluate sources using appropriate criteria.
    Evaluating Internet Sources
  11. Synthesize, analyze and integrate information sources and prior knowledge.
    Georgetown University Writing Center
  12. Revise hypothesis as necessary.
  13. Use information effectively for a specific purpose.
  14. Understand such issues as plagiarism, ownership of information (implications of copyright to some extent), and costs of information.
    Georgetown University Honor Council
    Copyright Basics from the Library of Congress
    Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It
    from Indiana University
  15. Cite properly and give credit for sources of ideas.
    MLA Bibliographic Form
    Turabian Bibliographic Form: Footnote/Endnote
    Turabian Bibliographic Form: Parenthetical Reference
    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."