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Keefe Regional Technical School: Research Process

The Research Process Introduction and Steps *

Introduction

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams:

DON'T PANIC

Research assignments can be complicated, but this guide is here to help. 

Why research? Research isn't just something done by scientists in white lab coats, and it's not just a ten-page term paper during spring semester, though it could be either. Research is the process of investigation: finding, evaluating, and using information from multiple sources to answer a question, solve a problem, or support an argument. It’s about being curious, seeking the truth, and creating new knowledge. 

Research is how we educate ourselves, in or out of school, all the time, from understanding the causes of the Civil War or the effects of antibiotics on the human body, to deciding whether to buy a new phone, where to go to college, or which presidential candidate to support. 

In different disciplines, research questions and methods vary. For example, research in science and engineering may involve experiments, whereas research in the humanities and social sciences may include archives, interviews, or creative and artistic works. Whatever the subject, when you conduct research you become part of an academic community, building on the knowledge of those who came before you, participating in that conversation, and leaving something new behind for those who follow. 

It is as much about process as product. Research as a process includes asking questions, finding and interpreting information, sharing answers, reflecting back, then rinsing and repeating. In this handbook, we use the PRICE acronym as a mnemonic: 

Although we discuss the steps in this order, it is really not a simple, linear process. Research is recursive, which means that at any step you can and often should return to a previous stage. For example, as you develop your argument, you may realize you need more evidence and go back to take more notes. This does not mean you did it wrong the first time; indeed, it is all part of the process. 

The research process is flexible and can be adapted to any information need, for school, work, or life, so learn it well. Take a deep breath and dive in!

* This research guide was adapted from the Arlington High School (MA) Research Guide as presented at the MassCUE conference.   A HUGE thanks to the AHS team for allowing us to adapt their guide.

CONTRIBUTORS

The Arlington High School (MA) Research Handbook was drafted by an interdisciplinary research study group in August 2014. 

Participants were: 

Kristin Arabasz, History Teacher 
Cory Bavuso, Science Teacher 
Joanna Begin, Math Teacher
Amanda Camelio, History Teacher 
Lisa Clark, History Teacher 
Graham Daley, Science Teacher 
Risa Dubin, Learning Center Tutor  
Robert Hale, English Teacher  
Stacy Kitsis, Library Teacher 
Brian Sylvester, Special Education Teacher

The handbook is maintained by the school librarian, Stacy Kitsis.