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Steps in the Research Process

Get Started in Research Review the Literature Select a Research Design Formulate a Hypothesis
1. Define the Problem 2. Review the Literature 3. Formulate a Hypothesis or Problem Statement 4. Select a Research Design
Carry Out the Research Interpret Your Results Report the Research Findings Repeat
5. Carry Out the Research 6. Interpret the Research 7. Report the Research 8. Repeat

1. Define the Problem

Define the Problem

Identifying a compelling research question is the first step to a successful research project.  What issue, problem, or topic are you interested in exploring?

This worksheet will guide you through the process of developing your research question.

This video and powerpoint are additional resources to help you develop a research question.

2. Review the Literature

Review the Literature

The purpose of conducting research is to "fill in the gaps" of our knowledge about a particular field or subject, to identify a new problem, or to "test" a new solution or recommendation for an existing issue or phenomenon.

To frame your research project, and to ensure that your research question has not already been examined, you must conduct a literature review.

Download these helpful steps for conducting a literature review, or watch this brief video on the literature review process.

3. Formulate a Hypothesis or a Problem Statement

Formulate a Hypothesis

Depending on your research question and methodology, you will be required to formulate a research hypothesis OR a problem statement based on your research question.

A research hypothesis is an educated prediction that provides an explanation for an observable (measurable) event or condition.  Learn more about how to develop a research hypothesis.

A problem statement is both a reiteration of the problem that the study will address and the justification for studying the problem.  Learn more about how to develop a problem statement.

4. Select a Research Design

Select a Research Design

Deciding what you will research will help to determine how you will design your research project.

Will it be qualitative or quantitative? What methodology and design will you choose? What methods - techniques and tools - will you use to collect, analyze, and interpret your data?  

Explore this website to learn more about different types of research approaches.

5. Carry Out the Research

Carry Out the Research

Now you can finally conduct your research!

For many, this is the most enjoyable part of the process; but, it's also the step that requires the greatest attention to detail to ensure that your research design and methods are followed accurately - to generate good data - and that the research is conducted ethically.

Read more about how to be a responsible researcher

6. Interpret Your Results

Interpret Your Results

Once your experiment has concluded and/or data have been collected, it is time to analyze the data using methods determined by your research methodology and design.  Next, you must interpret the results.

It is important that your interpretetation is supported by the evidence. Avoid spurious conclusions of causality or correlation!

7. Report the Research Findings

Report Your Research Findings

The purpose of research is to share knowledge.

Once your research has concluded, it is important to share your results. You might write an article for publication, prepare a white paper, or present your research at a conference either as part of a panel discussion or a poster presentation.

Here are some tips for designing a better research poster.

8. Repeat

Repeat Your Research

Research is an iterative process.

New knowledge leads to more questions, further research, and the generation of more new knowledge.

So, return to Step 1 and enjoy a new research experience!

About Houston Scholars

Supported by the Provost's Office and the Honors College, the Houston Scholars program is designed to bolster students’ academic and professional goals through faculty mentoring, research proposal development, and a semester discussion series led by University of Houston faculty from across the campus. Houston Scholars will also learn about national and international award opportunities, and receive assistance in developing applications for competitive programs.

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