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Cooper Library and Learning Commons: Research Process (Secondary)

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Guides to Citations (Level 2)

Research Process (Secondary)

Step 1: Question

Students: Your goal in this first step is to learn enough about your topic to identify a specific question to answer or a hypothesis to test.

Write a specific research question or hypothesis.

  • What do you know about your assignment? 
  • What do you know about your topic? 
  • What do you want to know? 
  • What's the question or problem you will focus on? 

Tools for gathering background information on a topic:


Tools for developing good questions

Step 2: Gather

Your goal is to locate, retrieve, read, evaluate, and record information related to your research question or hypothesis.

Create an annotated bibliography and record notes from sources.

  • Where will you look for information? 
  • What search tools will you use to find the best information to answer your question? 
  • What keywords will you use? 
  • How will you identify the best sources? 
  • How will you record what you find? 
  • How will you give credit to your sources?

Begin your search in your school's library catalog located in the upper left of this page.

Continue your search using the library databases and search engines located on the Research tab.

Use EasyBib to take notes and record your sources. Access EasyBib by:

  • Using the link on the upper right of this page.
  • Login into Google Mail. Click the 'grid'. Click Even more from Google. Click EasyBib.
  • On a Chromebook, click the apps grid near the bottom of your screen. Search for EasyBib.

Step 3: Conclude and Organize

Students: Your goal in this step is to reflect on what you have learned, draw a conclusion, and then organize your information to support that conclusion.

Confirm thesis and outline main points.

  • What did you learn from reading, listening, and viewing? 
  • How will you organize the information you found to answer your question or defend your hypothesis?

Tools for taking notes, drawing conclusions and organizing information:

  • NoodleTools' notes feature can be used to record and organize notes.
  • A visual thinking too such as Coogle, may be useful for generating ideas and creating a visual outline of your ideas.

Step 4: Communicate your conclusions

Your goal in this step is to communicate your conclusion and supporting points to your audience. 


  • If you teacher specifies the format, follow instructions.

  • If you choose the format, consider your audience and the tool that best communicates your message.

  • Always keep your due date in mind!

  • Consult with your library media specialist on selecting and using various technology tools.


Click the Tools tab to find a variety of options for communicating your ideas.

Step 5: Evaluate

Your goal in this step is to evaluate your completed product and the process you used.


Consider your assignment and the product you created and ask yourself:

Step 1: Question

  • Is the completed product exactly what you were assigned to do?
  • Did you do adequate preliminary research on your topic?
  • Did you formulate a compelling question?

Step 2: Gather

  • Did you use sources in a variety of formats?
  • Did you ask a professional for assistance in finding information?
  • Did you use carefully selected keywords to search for your information?
  • Did you evaluate the credibility and purpose of your resources?
  • Did you use a reliable system to record your information?

Step 3: Conclude

  • Did you adequately answer your original question or prove your hypothesis?
  • Did you support your thesis with authoritative sources?
  • Did you build on your understanding of the subject?
  • What new information did you learn or create about your topic?

Step 4: Communicate

  • Has your work been carefully reviewed and edited?
  • Is your work complete? Is it neat?
  • Does it include a Title (page, slide or clip) and a Works Cited or Bibliography page?
  • Are your sources credited in the proper format?

Step 5: Evaluate

  • Would you be proud for anyone to view your work?
  • Which of the previous steps did you do best?
  • What have you learned from this process?
  • How can you improve next time?


Congratulations! You have completed an extensive problem solving project. You have used the steps of the research cycle to gain new knowledge and understandings. You have shared your findings and decisions persuasively.

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