Part 1. Get Started on Your Research

Key Takeaway

 Research is a process of strategic exploration, one that begins with learning how to ask the right question.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Understand the difference between a search topic and a research question
  • Identify the features of a reference article that can aid in further research

Navigation: How to move around this tutorial

This module should take roughly 15 minutes to complete.

Use the arrows at the bottom of each page to move forward and backward through the modules. Or, use the Contents menu in the top left hand corner to go to a particular section.


It’s useful to think about this early stage of your research project as a process of exploration, one that will help you develop a research question that is going to be searchable. If a topic is completely new to you, you will likely want to find some background information in order to understand the context of your topic and how it relates to a larger picture. This exploratory process will also help you with any specialized terms associated with your topic that you might use in developing a search strategy. And sometimes, this initial exploration will also lead you to realize that your question might not be searchable, or that you are going to have to modify it a little. That’s ok. A little work up front will save you time later.

Even if you already have some familiarity with a topic, some additional background work can help to bring a fresh perspective to your understanding of it.


Figure 1.1 Research as strategic exploration. Image by pixelcreatures.

Tip: Review your assignment

Before you get started on your research, make sure you understand the requirements of your assignment. Pay attention to the kinds of information sources you need and how you will be expected to incorporate them into your own work.

This page on analyzing your assignment from the KPU Learning Centres can help you figure out what you need to do for your assignment



Image:” Compass Map” by Pixelcreatures.


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Doing Research Copyright © 2020 by Celia Brinkerhoff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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