Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Planning Library Research

The library research process

The process of conducting library research can be broken down into the following five activities. These are not necessarily distinct steps which can be undertaken in a set order one after the other, the process of conducting research will vary according to the research subject.

Analyse the research subject

This part of the research process is often undertaken in conjunction with a tutor or supervisor, you will need to clarify the research subject by establishing the scope of the research and identifying keywords. This activity is discussed further in The research subject.

Identify research tools and collections to use

A range of tools are available to facilitate the research process, you need to identify which of these are relevant to your subject and when it would be appropriate to use them. Research tools and resources provides an overview of what tools are available and what they do. You may need to visit a number of different collections located in institutions such as libraries, museums and records offices during your research. Further help with this can be found in Institutions and collections and Planning library visits.

Locate and obtain resources

You can use the research tools you have identified to search for relevant resources. It may be necessary to use a range of methods to obtain physically or gain access electronically to these resources. The Using Libraries and Using Resources modules of this tutorial provide information about locating and accessing a range of resources, such as journals or web resources.

Read and evaluate

You will need to evaluate all the resources you consult during your research, whatever their format. General advice about what you should consider can be found in the Using Resources module of this tutorial. It may be necessary to consider a number of factors when evaluating resources and the criteria used can vary between the disciplines, so if in doubt consult your tutor.

Keep records

Keeping records is integral to library research and should be undertaken from the outset and throughout the process. For example, record the searches you have conducted in each of the respective databases, see Keeping records. The Referencing and Bibliography module of this tutorial provides training on recording and citing the bibliographic details of the resources used in your research.

For a description of the activities and skills involved in conducting research in a wider sense, look at What is a researcher?

css xhtml 1.0
© University of London Research Library Services