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Student Learning Success: Research & writing

RESEARCH is "the systematic investigation into, and study of, materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions" (Oxford Dictionary). When you do research, you are joining a larger conversation about your topic that could span decades or even centuries. You are adding your voice to that conversation in your own unique way. 


Review general background information on your topic before you decide on the specific focus.

Look for a research-starter in the Camosun library databases.

Make a plan for tracking your sources.

Seek help for proper citation and document formatting.

Understand that it may be difficult to find peer-reviewed articles for topics that are very new.


How do you plan out and prepare your research?

What types of sources do you need (peer-reviewed articles, web resources, case studies)?

How do you evaluate your sources (do you use the CRAAP test)?

Where can you go to find credible sources of information?

What specifically do you have to say about your topic: why is it interesting or important?

Steps in the research process

research stages, define, refine, question, locate, evaluate, documentSelecting your topic.

  • Choose a topic that interests you
  • Follow your assignment criteria
  • Talk to your instructor

Doing some background research.

Refining your topic.

  • Focus on a particular aspect
  • Brainstorm keywords

Locating sources and evaluating them.

Writing the paper.

Documenting your sources.

  • Keep track as you go
  • Follow a citation style appropriate for your subject or discipline


Define and develop your topic.

Hopefully, you're interested in the topic or there's some aspect of the assigned topic you can focus on.

  • Brainstorm, either alone or with classmates.
  • Draw a diagram, concept map, or make a list of your ideas.
  • List what you already know about the topic.
  • Choose some keywords and do a quick overview search for general information.
  • Start with a broad term like “diversity.” Then narrow down the results: for example, diversity in educationworkplace, or family.


Refine your topic by turning it into a question that can be answered or into a statement that can be supported.

  • "Why is diversity an important consideration in educational systems?"
  • “Diversity is an important consideration in educational systems.”  


Locate credible sources to support your statement or answer your question.‚Äč

Your Camosun libraries have many resources to help you succeed:

  • Research Help Desk at both campus libraries
  • 100+ research guides filled with professionally selected resources
  • 40,000+ e-books
  • 140+ databases

Get help in person and online; you can access all these resources from home.


Evaluate your sources.

  • For content: Do the articles, e-books, magazines, etc., that you chose to support your statement actually support it?
  • For credibility: Do the authors have expertise in the topic? Do they provide their sources or the data on which they are basing their argument?
  • For bias and intent: Are the authors trying to sell you something? Does the website, newspaper, or periodical have a vested interest in promoting a specific view?


Document every source.

  • For your credibility: Citing your sources proves that you have researched your topic and given thought to how you can support your argument. It also shows that you understand the protocols required for joining in on the academic conversation about your chosen topic.
  • For your reference page/works cited: Tracking your sources as you go makes it easier to put your list of sources together and avoid plagiarism; furthermore, you won’t waste time searching for quotes when you're writing your paper!