Research Process


Information Literacy

“Information literacy forms the basis of lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become self-directed, and to assume greater control over their own learning.”

(Source: Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000.)


The Research Process

Learning new information and sharing the ideas is an exciting and interesting process.  When you solve a problem, seek new meanings, answer a question, or pursue a passion, you work through several learning tasks and use various research skills. This process of learning and sharing information is described below.


Select an area of study – What do I want to find out?

The first step is deciding what topic to study.  Once you have chosen a topic you must decide what central question or thesis you want to answer about the topic.

  • Choose a topic.
  • Formulate a central question.


Prepare for search – What do I know and what do I need to know?

Before you begin your search for answers, it helps to review facts and ideas about the topic.  This information will help as you continue to investigate the topic.

  • Explore general resources to gain an overview.
  • Review previous learning.
  • Identify key words for the study.
  • Organize and integrate ideas.
  • Develop specific questions for study.


Locate and Access Information – What resources can I use to gather information?

Now it’s time to locate information.  There are many resources you can use to learn about your topic.  Look for information in books, magazines, videos, places, or with people.  Some sources may include relevant information you will use to answer your research questions.  Use the table of contents or index to check for specific facts and ideas about your topic.

  • Locate resources.
  • Search resources for relevant information.


Gather Information – What information can I use from these resources?

Finally you begin the process of gathering information.  As you read, view, listen to, and handle information you decide which facts and ideas answer your questions. It helps to record your ideas so you’ll be able to look at them again.

  • Read for understanding
  • Evaluate the information
  • Select and record facts and ideas.

 Construct New Meanings – How can I summarize the information I learned?

As you think about the facts and ideas you are gathering you will begin to come to new understandings. It is important that you really understand the information you are working with.  You will be looking for patterns and relationships in the information and combining these into new ideas.  After you create your ideas you will need to organize them.  The way you organize and compose your information will depend on how you present your project.

  • Synthesize information.
  • Organize and compose information.


Apply Findings – What can I make to share the information I learned?

The last part of the research project is putting the information into a product that can be shared.  There are many creative and practical ways to share your ideas.

  • Prepare presentation or product.
  • Present information.


Evaluate – How will I know I did my job well?

Once your product is complete you will want to think about its effectiveness.  You will decide if the product communicates your ideas in a clear and concise way.

  • Assess product.
  • Reflect on process.

Useful Research Link: 

Big6 Skills - Describes the research process. The site has lots of great lessons and guides. Created by Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts.


“To be information literate, an individual must recognize when information is needed, and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the information needed”.  (Source: Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. American Library Association, 1989.)