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Research Process

Get Started


Choose a topic

Consider an area of personal interest.

Broad Topic:Thought bubble image

Understand the assignment

Review the format and writing style your instructor expects.


Get an overview

Look at encyclopedias, directories and other reference sources. Websites, textbooks and class notes are also a good place to start your research.


Book image.Computer image  Notebook image



Brainstorm by...

  • Thinking of keywords: A list of words that describe your topic.
  • Creating a concept map: A visual layout or landscape of your topic. Identify different aspects of your topic and branch off to related ideas.
  • Broadening your topic: Broaden your topic if it is too specific. Expand your focus to a larger area, such as a country, continent, or time period.
  • Narrowing your topic: Narrow your topic if there is an overwhelming amount of information. For example, focus more closely on a geographical area, concept or species.

Mindmap image

[Click for larger image]



Develop a research question

Describe your research goal in the form of a statement or question. The answer to your research question will become your main argument or thesis.



Research Question:
How can you protect your
personal information online?

Helpful Links

In addition to the resources listed here, further information and tips are available through Durham College's Student Academic Learning Services (SALS).

Research Support

Visit the Research module in The Learning Portal to learn about research, copyright, academic honesty, and citation, and to access virtual research help.

Watch the intro to the Research hub.

The Learning Portal - College Libraries Ontario


Video icon

Getting Started (03:10)

From Effective Internet Search: Basic Tools and Advanced Strategies. Films Media Group, 2011. Films On Demand. Web.

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