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General resources useful to IPRO courses.

Search Strategy Video

This video will provide an overview of how to approach your research and create a search strategy, whether you're just getting started, or deep in the middle of your project.

Step 1: Define Your Research Need

The first step in the research process is understanding your research need. What information are you lacking? What areas of your topic or research question do you still need to explore?

Depending on your class, you may have a narrowly defined user need and problem statement, or one with a wider scope. Either way, you will want to be able to articulate your area of focus in order to begin the research process.

Step 2: Background Research

To create a problem statement and understand your topic, you will likely need to find out some additional information first. The goal of background research is to explore! You don't need to gather source information for this. Your goal is to have an idea of the major subtopics for your topic, what questions might be unanswered and unresolved in this area, and where there are gaps or unsolved problems.

Use Google, Wikipedia, or your provided class readings or resources to get started.

Step 3: Focus Your Research

Create a focused research question. Once you have a basic understanding of your topic, start creating specific, focused questions about areas you need to understand more deeply. You should also begin thinking about where you can find the answers to your questions. Who would be interested in this information? Who would collect data on it?

Step 4: Collect Information

Collect information. Now is when you'll want to do a more focused search and begin collecting sources and noting down the information you're learning. In this stage, you may start using more specific resources, like a library database or a government data portal, for example.

In this step, it can also be helpful to create a search strategy. In a search strategy, you will think critically about the keywords in your research question, and list any synonyms, broader terms, and narrower terms. By combining not only your original search terms, but also these additional keywords, you will be able to search more effectively.

Download a blank Create a Search Strategy Worksheet to start on your own, or look at an example worksheet that has been filled in.

Step 5: Iterate

Iterate throughout the design process. As you move through the design process, you will encounter new questions. As you do, make sure you're repeating steps 2-4.