You have been given your assignment. Now it's time to think about the purpose of your research, building on the skills you developed in undergraduate courses. At the graduate level, your work should reflect your ability to analyze and synthesize facts from different sources, leading to your own original ideas. Defined as the "systematic process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting information," research is an organized approach to find answers about a topic (Leedy & Ormond, 2005, p. 2).
Research is not one-dimensional. There are different reasons for research, ranging from finding an answer to a simple question to combing through facts and scholarly arguments to put evidence together to support a new thesis. At the graduate level, you are seeking information to enable a new or alternate conclusion. You will not always find a new fact; however, creating new and deeper understandings of information is key to graduate study.
The research process is cyclical, beginning with a question or statement of the problem. Doing research to answer a question or address a problem is like solving a puzzle; that goal gives you direction as you identify, locate, and evaluate information. Once you have evaluated and analyzed the information, you will be able to make some reasoned conclusions about how the information fits together and what it might mean. It is not enough to find information and string it together to prove a hypothesis. You must consider information that illustrates multiple sides of an issue and use it to produce well-reasoned conclusions.
The resources below will help you to find information by research, evaluate the resources for relevance, reliability, and currency. Library resources will help you judge information found on the internet and websites. You will find valuable information via public search engines, but you must judge each resource by the same standards you use to consider information from books and peer-reviewed journals.
Leedy, P. D. & Ormond, J. (2005). Practical Research: Planning and Design. Pearson.