The Research Process

The Research Process. There are many different strategies and models for research.  Using models from Stripling and Pitts and Anna Bevilacqua the following ten steps represent a suggested format for research.

1.   First you must have a good understanding of the assignment. This will help you determine which kinds of resources you need to use.

For example: if the assignment is to write a critique of an article from a peer reviewed journal in your subject field you would need to find journals, specifically peer reviewed journals. 
Those are indexed in a variety of databases representing a broad range of subject areas and topics.

If your assignment was to write a short paper on key event in U. S. History you could use book resources as well as journal articles.  The place to begin would be in the library online catalog.

If you are still unclear about the assignment your professor should be consulted.

2.   Now choose your  topic

3.   General reading on the topic – overview from a broad perspective 

This step provides you with general, broad information about your topic, revealing aspects of the topic that you may or may not want to focus on in your research.
Resources that would be helpful in this step include general encyclopedias or specialized subject encyclopedias.  Both those links will take to the online catalog where you view a suggested list of titles.  Most of these sources will be Reference works, identified by [Ref] preceding the call number. 

There are several good encyclopedias on the Internet, check out the IPL's list of online encyclopedias. Your first thought might have been Wikipedia which is actually a great source for overview information on a wide variety of subjects.

Note:  General encyclopedias, either in the library reference collection [like World Book, Britannica or Americana for example] or online general encyclopedias like Wikipedia, are not sources you will cite on your references page. They provide you background information needed to formulate the topic or provide focus for a topic- they are not considered scholarly sources.   However, specialized subject encyclopedias in most cases are very scholarly and provide in-depth information on topics that would be considered appropriate to reference.  When in doubt ask your professor providing him/her with specific titles in question.

4. Narrow the topic

Using information gained from reading the overview, you now have more information to aid in determining how to narrow down your topic.

5. Develop thesis statement, formulate questions

Questions will help guide your research and give you a framework as you search for your topic.  It can also help identify gaps in your research plan.

6. Plan for research

Here thoughtfully look at your topic, keeping in mind important factors you want to consider for example - date range, limiters by age, ethnicity, geographically, socioeconomic, even by type of media like video files...
Current information is found in the databases where information is updated daily.  If date is not an important factor books will be great sources and provide more volume of content than a journal article. Having thought out where you want to gather information and any limiters will shorten your research time.

7. Find, analyze, evaluate, get supporting materials for argument

Finally!  You can get your hands on the keyboard and start looking for the information!  A wide variety of resources are at your service. 
There are books - both in print for checkout and Ebooks - viewable full text online with eReader download options; peer reviewed journal articles; newspaper articles, video files accessible in databases such as Films on DemandAmerican History on Video, Global Issues in Context and Academic OneFile for example; DVD and video collection, reference tools. 

See below for more detail on locating books, journal articles, reference works as well as Internet sources.

8. Evaluate evidence- review and revise

Time to go through your resources and make determinations as to whether they are usable or adequate, do they support your thesis statement, and are there any gaps that need to be filled?
Then put your notes, your summaries into writing, read and proof read, revise and make the needed changes.

9. Establish conclusions

What conclusions can you make based on your research?

10. Create and present final product

Put it together in the required format.  The Reference Desk has copies of the APA, MLA and Chicago Style Guides available as needed.
Links to Internet citation style websites are found in the Citation Styles and Documentation Guide
Also here you'll find links to free citation tool builder websites.  Note: these sites don't always get the citation style correct so always proof read your bibliography pages with the related style manual to make the needed changes before submission.  Don't trust that these sites are accurate.



Books             Journals              Reference             Internet               Help

 Locating books and the online catalog
great for comprehensive information, overviews

  • Books can be located from the Waggoner library Web site
  • The Online Catalog allows you to search by author, title, subject, and keyword.
  • Search other area libraries with one search question through ATHENA.  A courier service allows a patron to retrieve a book from ATHENA within 5-7 working days.  Requests can be made online.  There is no fee for Trevecca patrons.
  • Waggoner's eBook collections integrate over 85,000 full text eBooks into the library holdings and provide download options.

Searching the Online Catalog

  Keyword VS Subject Searching Keywords are searched by the database simply by matching the spelling of the word/phrase-NO meaning is attached.  Searching by subject (or author and title) will attach a meaning to the spelling creating a better result list.  If you cannot find any titles after searching by subject, enter your terms in as a keyword search.  This will broaden the search.

  Advanced Search provides options to search the Reserve Room and Electronic Journal Titles as well as Basic Search options of Author, Title, and Subject.

  Searching other libraries through Athena  If you need book materials to supplement the TNU collection, click on the Search ATHENA link on the Library web page.  This virtual online catalog provides access to several local area libraries including Trevecca, MTSU, Vanderbilt, Nashville Public Library, and TSU. Retrieved titles can be ordered online for no cost.  They will be couried to Trevecca for pickup.  There is no cost to Trevecca students and faculty.

  Online Catalog Result List The search result list is in a relevancy ranking order.  Under the search box you have options to re-sort the result list - by date or in title order.  The holdings line provides call number as well as indicates whether a book has been checked out by providing the due date.   The full record is viewed by clicking on the title of the book.  Here you can view a review of the book and/or see the Table of Contents page.  You also have links to subject headings that could help in finding the right resources.  Also included in the result list are e-books from netLibrary or ebrary which are indicated by the phrase [electronic resource] in the title line.

  Checking out/Renewing library books  These are checked out at the Main Circulation Desk with a maximum of fifteen books and are due back your last class meeting. Your TNU I.D. card serves as your library card. Books cannot be checked out from the Web site.

Materials can be renewed online! From the library home page click on the “My Account” link on the menu.
Follow instructions to view your account. The renew link will appear on the screen.  Books cannot be renewed if they are overdue.  Call 615.248.1214 for assistance.

Obtaining materials using Waggoner’s Interlibrary Loan Services   
All transactions for ILL are handled through the Interlibrary Loan Services Librarian. Complete an online form on the library Web site following the ILL link on the menu.  Allow 7-10 days for the requested book to arrive and 7 days for article reprints.  Items are sent to the Library for pickup.  There is no charge for this service for Trevecca students and faculty.

Books:  Books generally have a three to four week checkout period.  Turnaround time for book requests is about 7 working days. There are generally no fees for this service; however, late fine charges for ILL books are $.50 per day.

Journal Article Reprints: If a journal is unavailable at TNU a reprint of it can be ordered using the online form.   There is no cost. Allow 7 days for delivery of the article.

Locating Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
current, scholarly and shorter articles, most easily accessed online

Online account information is provided exclusively for Trevecca Nazarene University. Our license agreements permit use of databases only by Trevecca faculty and students.  Please help us maintain the integrity of our license agreements by not sharing passwords with family, coworkers, and friends.

  If you know the journal title: 

    From the library homepage, enter the name of the journal in the search box near the top right.  Change the tag to read “Journal Title” then enter.  If your journal is full text in one of our databases the result will include a link to the database where you can access the full text.  The result list will also indicate coverage dates if the journal is available in print or microfilm as well.  If there were no hits you can complete online an ILL form requesting a journal article reprint. Allow 7 days for receipt of the reprint.

  If you are searching by subject: 

     Electronic Resources Link: You can select a general database, peruse by field of study or browse by title of database.  Accessing subscriber databases off campus requires you to provide your name and the ID number from your student ID.   

The Database Comparison Chart lists and gives information about all the
databases subscribed to by Waggoner Library.
A database is defined as  an online index providing access to full text articles

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  Locating Traditional Reference & Stack books
brief information written by experts; concise introductions, facts or definitions

    The reference collection consists of specialized encyclopedias and subject dictionaries representing all major fields.  These titles are indexed in the online catalog but most have their own index with the set.  These sources differ from general sources in that they are scholarly works.  Consult with the Reference Desk staff for assistance. Photocopies can be made of needed text. Some titles have duplicates in the stacks or an online version available; it will be noted on the online catalog record as a copy.

   Traditional Reference materials are located on the main floor of Waggoner Library and not available for checkout.  Material can be photocopied.   Circulating Books are located on the second floor of Waggoner. Traditional undergraduate students have a four week checkout period for circulating books. 

   Graduate students and degree completion students have due dates that correlate with their program calendars.

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Locating Materials on the Internet  
amazing depth and breadth of available information; important to evaluate websites.

The Internet has become a primary tool for students to find information for papers and projects. It is a great tool if it is used wisely and critically by students.   Web evaluation skills are critical to having success in searching the Internet. It is important to not rely on just Internet sources when doing your research. 

Take the tutorial created by the Internet Detective entitled, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to learn more about how to evaluate the content you will discover while searching the Internet.

Advanced Search options in the major search engines provide you with limiters so you can have a strong and relevant result list.  Read more about Search Engines and their common features from UC Berkely's Library - Recommended Search Engines.

Waggoner Library Contact Information

Circulation Desk: 615-248-1214    Reference Desk: 615-248-1570
Live Chat with a librarian can be accessed by clicking here during library hours



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