What is Research?

Research is the process of gathering, evaluating, and interpreting information or data to answer a question or solve a problem.

As students, you will apply information literacy skills to your research projects.

The two types of research we are concerned with here are:

Scientific research. Whether in a lab or out "in the field," researchers conduct studies of organisms, behavior, technology, organizations, etc. They may come up with a hypothesis to test, and theywill develop a methodology for their testing or experimentation.

This type of research happens most often in the sciences and social sciences. The data they collect may be in the form of measurements, observations, interviews, etc.

Existing information can be combined with original thought, experimentation and/or analysis to produce new information.

Library or information research. Students and researchers use library and other information resources to study a topic. They research what has been written in order to find support for an argument or thesis statement, to expand a topic by bringing together various viewpoints, to trace the history of a topic, etc.

In many cases, existing information is used to produce new information through analysis.

For whatever type of research you are doing, the quality of the information you use is of utmost importance. An information literate individual "evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base" (ACRL Standards). This applies across all disciplines.

Keep in mind that different disciplines use different research methods. They also use different citation styles when documenting sources.

Copyright 2010-2013 Old Dominion University -- ODU Libraries, updated September 2013