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Developing Research Skills: Be Flexible

The purpose of this guide is to introduce you to information literacy skills (superpowers) through the use of an existing research assignment so that you will feel more confident and equipped in college research activities.

Research is a Process

Be Flexible LogoThe research process is a cycle that requires your powers of patience and flexibility!

While there are clear steps to follow while writing a research paper, conducting research for the effective use of information usually follows more of a cyclical process than a straight line.  If you are willing to be flexible, to experience some trial and error, and to take your time in an organized method, you will surely succeed!

Remember that the scholars and authors who are publishing works into the scholarly conversation are also experiencing a research process - from the idea stage to the final published paper, report, presentation or book.  When you produce new information from your research endeavors, you are given the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

In this section of the Information League, you will complete a self-assessment of your previous research experience, receive an overview of the research cycle, move through a Credo Instruct tutorial on pre-research, and view a humorous video on research preparation.

Please complete this Self-Assessment

The Research/Writing Process

The figure and text below describes the process you might go through while working on a research assignment.

The research process is a cycle, not a linear process.

The Research Process is a cycle including 1) Receiving the assignment, 2) Brainstorming and/or outlining, 3) Searching for information, 4) Collecting your sources or articles, 5) Reading your articles and taking notes, 6) Outlining for the first time or again, 7) Beginning writing, 8) Editing and revising, 9) Having a peer review your writing and 10) Submitting your paper.


You experience this process often without being aware of the stages or having a name for each stage of research.  Often, the process is NOT continuous along this circle because you might go back to a previous stage.  You can start with a research question and then as you learn more about the topic, you might adjust your research question.  You might change your opinion or become more interested in something related to where you started.  When this happens, you might need to find different or more information sources.  As you write your paper, you might decide to discard some information sources and rely more on a particular article.  As you write and include your research sources, you will edit and revise. As you can see, the cycle of research and writing leads to a greater end result. (Click anywhere on the image to enlarge in a new window)

Cook, Kristen. “The Research/Writing Process.” 2018. JPEG.

Research Process: Video Tutorial

Video Tutorial

Writing Motivation: After You Start: A video from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) instructing students on how to get started on a research project. (

College Student Logo representing Flexibility

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