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Research Process at UCBA

Starting point and step-by-step guide to the research process.

Choose a Topic

The first step in the research process is choosing a topic.  Be sure to review your assignment for requirements/guidelines and talk with your course instructor to make sure you are on the right track.  If you need ideas, check out these resources as a starting point for a possible topic.

Brainstorm for Keywords

Now that you have a topic, you need to develop keywords and phrases that describe its core concepts/ideas. Use these keywords and phrases in your search to focus it and produce more relevant results.  Here is an example: 

How does junk food marketing impact children?

  1. Find core idea(s)/concept(s) > junk food, marketing, children
  2. Other related keywords and phrases > advertising, fast food, youth, diet, unhealthy food, kids, food preferences

Next, put those keywords to work!  Some library search tools (and Google) automatically connect multiple keywords with "and." This narrows results to include all of the keywords used.  Depending on the information you need, you may use "or" and "not" to connect certain keywords.Using and, or, not to connect keywords

Mapping Your Research Ideas

This short video walks you through mapping an idea into a research topic.  You'll also find a concept map template (Microsoft Word) that you can easily download and use for your topic.  A concept map helps you visually organize your ideas.

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