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An Overview: The Research Process

The research process is complex and multilayered. This tutorial provides an overview and some practical strategies you can use.

Picking Search Terms

To get ready to search for sources, break your question down into the main components.

It helps you identify potential search terms, which saves you time and find more relevant sources. Don't worry, you can always modify your terms as you search.


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Title: Picking Search Terms
Example Research Question: How does social media impact the mental health of college students?
1. Identify the main topics or ideas within your research question.
From example question: social media, mental health, college students
Tip: Most research questions will have 2-3 ideas.
2. Brainstorm similar terms (related words or ideas, synonyms) for each main idea.
From example main topics:
Social media: Social Networks, Internet, Instagram
Mental Health: Self Esteem, Anxiety, Depression
College Students: Young Adults, Freshman, Undergraduates
Tip: When considering terms identify which will broaden or narrow your search. For example, "young adults" is more broad than "college students"and "Freshman" is more narrow.