September 6

10 easy steps to research

The 10 Step Research process

(adapted from University Systems of Georgia

1.    Formulate your question or statement

Your research may start as a general idea or a specific question or statement. Narrow the topic down into something in which you’re interested. Or, you may decide to do some background searching (step 2) before you narrow your topic.

2.    Get background information

Read about the subject before you make too many decisions about how you’re going to approach your research. Reading around the topic introduces you to the area before you dive in, pretending to be an expert.

Encyclopedias are good sources for background information.  World Book is available in the Aquinas Library, or go to GCCC Library website and choose Encyclopedias: (You will need to log in using your GCCC Library card.)

Background information

  • Helps you to focus on names, dates, events, organizations, terms, etc., associated with a topic.
  • Helps you to formulate/reformulate your topic (it can help you decide whether to broaden or narrow your topic). Helps you to work out your search terms.
  • Background sources might include bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources for your project.

3.    Focus your search topic

Focus your topic considering the following points:

  • Background reading (Step 2): Should you narrow your topic? Is it too broad? Should you broaden your topic? Is it too narrow? Are there organizations or groups which can help you with information about the topic?
  • Subject/Disciplines: Which subject area would study the topic? This will help you determine which databases you will need to consult.
  • Audience: Is the research intended for a general or specialized group? If so, make sure that you use language and format which are appropriate.
  • Time and place: Can you limit your topic by time and/or place?

4.    Consider your resource options

What types of materials are needed?

  • Books
  • Magazine articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Web site.
  • Other materials, such as statistics, government publications

What is the date of the needed materials?

  • Current/Contemporary materials (written at or about the time an event occurred)
  • Retrospective materials (written after an event occurs and “looks back”)

5.    Choose your tools



BooksDVDs * Library search 

* Issues in the News eBooks. Log into Moodle_Library.


* Videos on Clickview.







* Australian New Zealand Reference Service. Moodle_Library provides the direct link to this database. Check out a tutorial here

* Gold Coast City Council Library online resources: in)


* Trove – the National Library of Australia:


* Scholarly research:




* EasyBib 

* GCCC Library useful website links


* Search engines. Check out your options here:


Primary sources, statistics and government information * InterviewsSurveys – use an online site such as Survey Monkey 

* Primary sources on specialist and government websites such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics or the CIA World Factbook


* Australian Parliament



6.    Choose your search terms

You may need to broaden or widen your search by choosing appropriate search terms. Here’s a tutorial to help you choose your search terms.

7.    Gather information

Gather your information by taking notes. As you do your research, it is important that you keep track of all your sources.

You can bookmark your references using Diigo: or Citelighter, a tool which allows you to highlight notes, generate citations and then export them to a Word document:

8.    Evaluate your sources

Evaluating sources means looking at the content of books, magazines, newspapers, etc. to determine if the information is reliable and making sure that the source actually answers your research question. Use website evaluation criteria to judge websites:

9.    Organise and write your assignment

Templates or scaffolds of different sorts of genres of writing are available on the Aquinas website at:

Edit your assignment carefully. If possible, put your assignment aside for a day or so, then edit it again.

10. Write your Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of the sources you used to write your paper. Take your final list of sources and put it into the appropriate style. At Aquinas College we are using the Harvard citation. If you have used EasyBib or ANZRC (see Step 5), many of your references will already be cited. Other online bibliography makers are listed on Aquinas Reads:

Hand in your assignment by the due date.

Congratulations! You’ve done well!

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