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Religion Essay: Reviewing the Research Process

The Research Process

When you are looking for articles for your project, you are engaging in RESEARCH! Research is a process. To be successful, you should follow all steps of the process in order. You can always go back to a step, but don't jump ahead too soon! This page reviews all of the steps in the process, and then goes into more depth about Steps 1 and 2. Complete the activities below before you begin searching for articles. 

Choosing a Manageable Research Topic

Step One: Task Definition

Defining Keywords 

Before you begin searching, you should make a list of KEYWORDS- terms that will be used in the search box of the databases or news outlet websites. Many times, you will need to perform multiple searches and use multiple keywords to result in a variety of sources. Remember, the more sources the better! Complete the activities below. 

Part I. Create a Brainstorming Map to develop a list of keywords

Using a piece of paper or a website like, create a map of key terms related to your topic. 

Example Map: 


Part 2: Develop synonyms/related terms list for your keywords

You might need to expand on some terms in order to search for your topic and find a variety of resources. 

Example Synonyms/Related Terms and Phrases Chart

Term in Map Above Alternate Term or Phrase
Violence against women attacks/bloodshed/cruelty towards women
Honor Killings Family Killings
Females in Politics Women in Government/Parliament

Background Research

Step Two: Information Seeking Strategies

Searching Tips

Make sure that you understand what types of sources are out there before you begin searching!

Type of Source Great Points! Watch Out!
Print Books
  • Print encyclopedias are great to get you started with a project, since they give very general information
  • General nonfiction books, or monographs, provide information on a specific topic
  • Books are generally very well-researched and trustworthy, as they have gone through an extensive editorial process
  • Some information can be out of date- figure out if the date of publication is important for your project. 
  • Books either must be checked out, or copy pages. Cannot share with multiple people at once.
  • Include encyclopedias, monographs, etc.
  • Very well-researched and trustworthy, as they have gone through an extensive editorial process
  • Some eBooks, such as those in the GVRL, can be accessed by multiple people at once.
  • Just like with Print books, you must note the publication date of the eBook and decide whether or not this information is important.
  • Variety of newspaper articles primary sources, maps, etc. from numerous sources
  • Can be difficult to search
  • Must use multiple key terms and phrases
Journal Articles
  • Article written by an expert in the field
  • Takes a long time to publish, might not be as up-to-date with information as a newspaper article
  • Must assess bias of the author
Newspaper Articles
  • Current and up-to-date information on a variety of topics
  • Must assess the bias of the author
  • Can be hard to differentiate between editorials and regular news articles