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Mathematical Sciences Resources

The Research Process

The Research Process graphic. Authored by: Kim Louie for Lumen Learning. License: CC BY: Attribution


  • Step 1: Define the topic
  • Step 2: Narrow the topic
  • Step 3: Gather background information
  • Step 4: Create a research question
  • Step 5: Develop a working thesis statement
  • Step 6: Find and evaluate sources
  • Step 7: Cite sources
  • Step 8: Write the paper


To be successful with your research project, you have to engage with information and explore different topics. This means that research is iterative, as opposed to a linear checklist. Your research topic may evolve, narrowing or broadening in response to the information you encounter and critically evaluate. The steps illustrated above are a good starting point, but depending on the nature of your project, you might not need all of them, or you might need to add additional ones, for example data collection. The following left-side tabs will take you through formulating a research question, gathering background Information by using reference material and using research strategies like keywords. Remember, you can Contact a Librarian at any point in your research project!