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Guide to the Research Process

Use this guide to help you make your way through a research project from start to finish!

Evaluating the Results of Your Research

Once you've found some sources you think are appropriate for your research project, it's time to evaluate them. (This goes for print sources just as much as internet sources.)

  • Authority - Who provided the information in your sources? How do you know they're trustworthy?
  • Accuracy - Is the information factual? Can the information be verified through other sources? Does the information seem credible?
  • Purpose and Coverage - What is the purpose of the information? Does the source exist to provide information or to sell a point of view? What is the tone of the writing? Is it ironic? Does it ridicule? Is the information comprehensive? Is it geared toward a particular audience?
  • Bias - Is the page free of bias? Does it present an objective view of the topic? Is the language biased in any way? Do you perceive a conflict of interest in terms of the content or presentation of the topic?
  • Date - How old is the information presented? Could things have changed since then?

Remember: Even if your sources meet all the criteria above, you still have to make sure they actually help you with your project! A perfectly reliable source of information that doesn't help you answer your research question is not useful.

Revising Your Research Question

As you conduct your research, you may realize that the question you're asking is misguided, not very interesting, or impossible to answer. What's a student to do??

Change your research question!

Revising your research question based on knowledge gained from research is all part of the process. You may need to inform your professor of this development, but don't be afraid to change course.