Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Guides: The Research Process

The Research Process

​​​​The Research Process

  1. Start with research question
  2. Identify key concepts from our question
  3. Identify keywords related to those concepts
  4. Choose your search tools
  5. Test your search
  6. Revise/refine your search

The image on the right may help you visualize the often circular nature of research. After your first database search, identify a source you think is helpful, then skim its abstract to look for additional keywords. Try your database search again with the new keywords. You may have to repeat these steps a few times.

Research is messy and rarely goes in a straight line!

Research Tips

For research in any subject, the following information will help you get started. 

  • Evaluating Sources: Our source evaluation rubric (SCARAB) helps you determine the quality of the sources you find for your research.  
  • Citing Sources: Our citation handouts help you create citations for your research papers.

                    MLA 8th edition

                    APA 7th edition (newest edition, updated 2019)

Database Research Tips

  • An effective search will return 20-500 results. Too few results? Your database search may have too many terms that are too narrow. Too many results will be overwhelming to sift through.
  • Do more than one search and use 2-4 keywords.
  • After a search, use the database's limiters to only show results that are full text and scholarly/peer reviewed
  • Use Boolean operators like ANDOR, or NOT.
  • Skim the abstract of a source you like for new keywords.
  • Look at the Works Cited page of a source you like for more sources that may be helpful to you.
  • Use the Subject Terms or Thesaurus feature of the database to help you find synonyms or database-approved keywords.

ENG 151 Research Guides

MCC Librarians use the research guides below for teaching source evaluation in ENG 151 classes.

Each research guide presents a mock research topic and six sample sources for that topic.

Electronic Health Records, Privacy and Big Data

Fake News

Fitness Trackers

Privacy and the Internet of Things

Self-driving Cars

Social Security

English 152 Student Feedback Form