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Remember the Process

Let's take a moment to look at where we've been.

Imagine that you've been completing a research assignment as you work your way through this tutorial. Up to this point, you have:

  • defined your research topic and determined your information requirements (chapter 1);
  • located and retrieved sources of information using the online catalog (chapter 2), reference sources (chapter 3), databases (chapter 4), and the Web (chapter 6);
  • evaluated the information you found and determined what's appropriate for your topic and what's high quality (chapter 7).

Because this tutorial proceeds in a linear fashion, chapter to chapter, you might think that research happens the same way: one step right after another until you're done. Research is actually a little messier: You start in one place, move forward, backtrack, leap ahead, and often find yourself in a place totally different from where you expected to land when you began the whole adventure.

While you might follow the arrows in the illustration below straight through to your destination—your completed assignment or project—it's much more likely that you'll go back to some of the steps several times throughout the research process.


a list of the steps involved in researching with arrows connecting the steps linearly as well as in different orders


In fact, when you become more comfortable with and expert at doing research, you won't even notice that you're moving back and forth between the steps, as it will come naturally without much conscious thought. Until then, remember that research is a complex process rather than a straight line, and be willing to circle around a few times until you find what you need.

So where to next?

If you haven't been organizing and synthesizing the information you find as you go along, now's the time to begin. In this chapter, we'll give you some ideas about how to do just that.

Chapter 8 — Page 2