Skip to main content

Academic Writing: Research Process

This LibGuide was designed to provide you with assistance in citing your sources when writing an academic paper.

The Research Process

       The Research Process is about organizing the work into convenient steps. There are many approaches to research and many ways to document findings.  Choosing a topic for a term paper, research paper, essay or thesis can be difficult and confusing for many students. Yet, it is actually a simple one with these tips.

         The first step in choosing a topic is to know what the instructor wants and then making a choice about how to write the topic or deciding on your topic and what you want to write about it.

You can ask any time to the Reference Librarians when you need help with your research.

Getting Started

Getting Started

This should include what aspects of your topic you plan to cover and why and where you plan to find the needed information.

  • Prepare a list of key words that you can use in a keyword search.
  • Ensure
  • Define your assignment and what kinds of information sources are required.
  • Select a topic, with the aid of reference sources.

When selecting the topic, it must also be clear how you wish to treat the topic, and what your research question will be. These two points are essential for the research and writing of the paper.

Keyword Searches

         Once you have worked out the main concepts of your topic, you need to look for alternative terms or keywords that describe each concept to use as search terms.
This section gives you some hints on where to find keywords.


  • Reference Books: General encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks, and other reference sources may contain an overview of a topic. They are located in the Atrium on the ground floor. Subject-specific reference sources located to different floors by subjects.  This is an excellent starting point.

  • Books and other library material search:  Use guided keyword searching to find materials by topic or subject.  To find the location and call number of books and other library material owned by the Suna Kıraç Library, use the Suna Kıraç Library Catalog. SKL Catalog is available on the Library Gateway or directly at Take note the citation (author, title, etc.) and the location information (call number). Note the circulation status. Go to the library and conduct a keyword search.

  • Journal search: Use periodical indexes and abstracts to find citations to articles. The journals can be in print or electronic formats or both. Choose the indexes and format best suited to your particular topic; you can get help from the reference desk if you have any questions.  You can find periodical articles by the article author, title, or keyword by using the periodical indexes in the If the full text is not linked in the index you are using, write down the citation from the index and search for the title of the periodical in the

  • Databases search: Determine the field of study you need to research. Search in the appropriate databases at  Database Selection Wizard on the Library Gateway. You can also access thrugh . Library staff can help you with choosing databases and finding information for your topic and keywords. Database Selection Wizard provides you databases relevant to your subject area.

  • Internet search: You can use popular search engines such as,  and for searches for material on the web. Don’t forget that when you are collecting and researching data avoid blog pages, free pages and unknown sites. Also, pay attention to the domain types. Prefer sites such as .com = commercial, .org = organization, .gov = government, .edu = education, and. net = network


Remember! you can ask any time to the Reference Librarians when you need help with your research.


Evaluate Found Sources

  • Follow a search strategy. To create a search strategy appropriate your research question, you will  need to ask two questions:

--What kinds of sources should I consult?

--In what order should I consult them?

  • Look through the material that you have found in your earlier searches and make a list of authors, new keywords, journals and books.
  • Focusing a research topic is narrowing / broadening a topic so that you can demonstrate a good understanding of it, including enough examples and important details, within the size limits of the project you are required to produce.



Maintain a Working Bibliography


  • After you have narrowed your focus, your search for useful research materials may supply you with many more books and articles than you have time to read, so you will need to be selective.
  • The information you take down about your sources, called a working bibliography, includes all of the details.
  • As you read, take notes systematically. You can take notes in various ways, as long as they accurate, but many researches find that 7.5 x 12.5 cm note cards work best. (See Sample Cards Below)
  • You can write one note on each card and then decide on the best way to preserve the information in a particular source: summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting.
  • Be sure to include exact page references next to the information, since you will need to page numbers later if you use the information in your paper.


Putting It All Together

  • Review your paper and underline the passages that require support or substantiation. Find the appropriate reference and place it there.
  • Add a "Definitions" section. Define your terms from the articles you have found. Cite them properly.
  • Add a "Backgrounds" section and describe the history and evolution of ideas regarding your research problem. Be sure to include the dissenting views (the "opposition") to provide a balanced approach.
  • Review the correct style guide and make sure that you are following the proper citation style. If it is in the area of humanities, it will probably follow MLA or Chicago style; if the social sciences, APA. If science, consult the discipline and find out the appropriate approach and the rationale for it so that you understand precisely why the references are listed as they are. Be sure to differentiate between Internet sources, journals, newspapers, interviews, and monograph/books.

Remember that if you run into problems, the Reference Librarian will be glad to help. 

Reading strategies

  • Read (or at least skim) all parts of the reading
  • Identify the genre of the reading
  • Consider the author
  • Guess why your instructor assigned the reading
  • Get out a calendar and plan your reading
  • As you read, record your reactions and questions
  • Visit your instructor during office hours to discuss the reading
  • Think about what is missing in the reading
  • If you know you will have to answer a particular question in response to the reading, read with that question in mind

A List of Possible Sources

    Once you know the kinds of information you need, you can make a list of all the possible sources in which you think you can find that information. These could include any of the following, or others:

  • Books
  • Magazine Articles
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Maps or Atlases
  • Expert people
  • Site visits (to museums, etc.)
  • Television Shows
  • Radio Shows
  • Sound Recordings
  • Video Recordings
  • Electronic Databases
  • Websites