Skip to Main Content

Introduction to the Research Process: Home

This guide will help you to complete any research project from start to finish!

Click   for research emergencies!

Click here to return to the previous version of the Spirit of Inquiry Help Page. 

Start Here!

  • Begin by examining the steps of the Guided Inquiry process. ⇒ ⇒ 
  • Need to choose a topic? Consider these Selection Strategies
  • Begin the Exploration phase by considering General Search Strategies
  • Continue Searching Online and Searching Databases. 
  • When you have some knowledge of your subject, move to the Formulation phase and create a research question or a working thesis.
  • Begin the Collection phase and continue Searching Online and Searching Databases, both General and Subject-Specific Databases; also try Searching Books for in-depth information on your topic. 
  • Your goal at this point is a Balanced Research Portfolio of sources that address the focus of your research.
  • Ready to write your paper or create your presentation? Be sure to use your sources correctly and ethically; don't forget your Citations!

Quick Links

Guided Inquiry


Guided Inquiry is a process for conducting research based on the work of Carol Kuhlthau, Professor Emerita of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University. The steps of the process are:   

Initiation: initiating a research project 

What is your research need? You might be writing a paper, working on a project, or just answering a question, but this phase is the one that starts your research process.

Selection: selecting a topic 

Of all the subjects in the world, what are you going to select for your investigation? It's okay to think broadly at this point.

Exploration: exploring for focus (here's where the research starts!) 

This is the fun part, and where you should spend a lot of time! Read widely from all kinds of sources, follow connections and even digressions, get to know the ins and outs of your subject before moving to the next phase.

Formulation: formulating a focus 

Only now is it time to focus your topic. With what you have learned, choose a particular angle of your broader subject to pursue. You might also create a working thesis or develop a research question in this phase.

Collection: collecting information on focus 

Back to the research! Now you know what you are looking for and can collect those sources, information and ideas that directly relate to your topic.

Presentation: preparing to write or present 

Time to pull it all together. In this phase, you will synthesize all that you have learned through your research AND present the new thinking or understanding that you've developed through this process. Cite your sources!

Assessment: assessing the process 

One more step! Assess your progress through this process of Guided Inquiry. What did you do well? What could be improved? What further ideas might you pursue? What else do you need to learn? What can you do now with the knowledge and insight you've gained?