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The Research Cycle

A General Guide for Conducting Research

The Research Cycle

At the start of any research project, you need to get a working knowledge of your topic.  In other words, you need to get some background information, which means consulting sources like authoritative encyclopedias.  The library has a long list of e-book encyclopedias to help you with this step.  

Once you have done your background research, you can identify what you know about your topic and what you still would like to know.  Then, you can formulate a research question.  Your question should be neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Once you know your research question, it's time to start searching for information.  Where should you search?  And how? 

You should always evaluate your sources even if they come from the library!  Do they need to be peer-reviewed?  If not, are they considered authoritative?  Does the author have credentials that align with the subject matter?

Now is the time to pull everything together.  Use the evidence you have gathered to support your points, making sure to cite your sources along the way. 















This guide is based on the Student-Centered Subject Guide template freely provided by Kennesaw State University and the Niche Academy "Designing Student-Centered Research Guides" webinar by Amy Barker and Ashley Hoffman. 

All photos have been downloaded for free from and do not require attribution.