Research Tips

Understand your assignment and its requirements! If you have any questions, ask your professor for clarification.

Start your research early. Library materials you need may already be checked out by another user. The Library may not always own a copy of materials you need for your research. Allow extra time if you need materials not owned by the library. Interlibrary Loan requests can take a few days up to a couple weeks depending on the item requested.

Keep notes of your reference citations including author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, volume, and page numbers. You will need this information for your in-text citations and bibliography. 

You can access library resources from off-campus. To access electronic resources off-campus, just enter your NDNU Student ID and password when prompted.

Ask for help! Reference librarians can help you identify and locate resources useful for your research. Librarians can help you via e-mail and through scheduled appointments at

The Research Process

What is A Research Process?

A research process is a step-by-step approach for developing a research paper. It generally involves several activities such as:

  • developing a research question
  • doing background research by identifying, locating, evaluating, and analyzing relevant information
  • synthesizing the information to support your point of view
  • presenting the information ethically by giving appropriate credit

Some activities might be simultaneous. You might develop and refine your question after locating and evaluating your sources. Your search for relevant sources may continue after you read and analyze some sources and refer to their references/bibliographies.

The 7 Step Research Process

Step 1: Identify and Develop Your Topic

You need to know what you're researching and writing about before you can begin doing anything. Narrow down your research topic by developing a focused research question. Identify the main concepts or keywords related to that topic so you know what to search terms to use.

See "Developing a Research Question" in this guide for more instruction on developing your topic.


Step 2: Locate and Evaluate Your Sources

Using the library catalog and online databases, collect articles, books, or other sources with information on your research topic. Look specifically for materials that will answer all or part of your research question.

Make sure that the information you find comes from reliable sources. Your professor may have requested you use only scholarly or peer-reviewed sources. More information on evaluating sources for reliability can be found in the "Evaluating Sources" section of this guide.


Step 3: Analyze Information and Brainstorm Ideas

This can be done concurrently with step two. As you read through the research you've gathered, think about the main ideas that appear in each source. Take notes and/or highlight as you read, keeping track of information or quotations you'd like to use and cite in your paper.


Step 4: Outline Your Paper

This can be done concurrently with step three. Collect your ideas and citations and create an outline for your paper. This can be as detailed or as basic as you want. It's a good idea to organize your thoughts before you begin writing to avoid needing to make major edits later.


Step 5: Draft Your Paper

Now that you have an outline, it's time to start writing. As you write you may find that you need to adjust your outline or go back and find more sources or citations to support your thoughts.


Step 6: Edit, Correct, and Revise

When you draft is finished, spend time reading through it to catch typos, grammatical errors, missed citations, or incomplete thoughts. Better yet, have someone else read through it for you. Often we miss typos or confusing wording in our own writing because we know what we're trying to say.


Step 7: Finalize Paper and Cite Your Sources

Make sure that your paper and it's works cited are correctly formatted. If you're not certain what citation format you professor wants, don't be afraid to ask. If you need help formatting your citations, ask a librarian or use our Citation Guide.