Skip to Main Content

The Research Process

In this research guide, learn the steps and strategies for an effective research process. Contact a librarian for assistance!

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” ― Zora Neale Hurston

How to Use This Guide

Graphic on a blue background with icons of a street sign, a desktop computer, and a piece of paper with a pencil

In this guide, you will find information to help you:

  • Move through the steps of the research process and how to recognize when to change your plan
  • Locate and select sources for your information need from the Library and the internet
  • Seek help from professionals when needed

This guide discusses research generally without considering unique ways of searching in specific subject-area or assignments so reach out to your Professor or a Librarian for more specific guidance if needed. 

For definitions and resources on Information Literacy skills that are a precursor to the Research Process, see our Information Literacy Skills Guide

The Research Process

The Research Process

(The graphic shows 5 steps of the research process in a circle, around an icon of a computer. Inside the computer it says Research Is a Process.)

Pace University Libraries logo

Research is not always a one-way process. It is iterative, which means you may need to reflect and repeat steps at certain points. As you move through the steps, especially in an academic setting, don’t be afraid to ask questions, start over, and ask for help!

  1. Decide on your question/topic: Review your assignment & determine a topic to explore. What questions should you ask to explore that topic well?
  2. Locate background info: Look for easy to read sources. Start on Google at places like Wikipedia, articles, newspapers or books.
    1. You might refine your question at Steps 2 or 3!
  3. Find relevant information: Search for information in sources most related to your topic. Use the library databases, Google Scholar, government sources, etc.
  4. Read, Evaluate, & Adjust Searching: Do the sources that you found answer your questions? If not, adjust your searches and locate ones that do!
    1. Do you need more evidence for your argument? Go back to Step 3.
  5. Organize, Write, & Cite: Take notes on each source, write your paper to answer your questions, and cite information you found!

Use the side navigation to learn more about each step.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License

Created for educational purposes by: Jessica Kiebler


All icons in this guide are sourced from Freepik through

Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) License Logo  This guide has a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) License.

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.