How to Begin the Research Process

When you begin to think about research and developing a methodology plan for research, you may feel some anxiety. You may even feel a little overwhelmed. Let me assure you that such feelings are normal.  A helpful strategy for alleviating anxiety and overwhelming feelings is to break a large task into smaller tasks.  Let me tell you a modified version of the fable of the bundle of sticks.

Fable of the Bundle of Sticks

A father hands his son a bundle of sticks and asks his son to break all sticks in half. The son takes the bundle in his hands and attempts to break them. He fails. He does not break even one. His father walks over to him, takes the bundle, and unties it. He hands his son one of the sticks and asks his son to break it. The son easily breaks the sticks. Then, again the father asks, “Can you break all the sticks in half?” The son assures his father that he can complete the task. He takes one stick at a time and breaks it in half.

The point is that breaking a large task into smaller increments can lead to the successful completion of the goal.

How to Begin

As you review the contents of the tutorials and handouts below, you will see that we are going to do this. That is, we are going to break down the steps for beginning a research plan into small tasks, including choosing a topic, developing a researchable idea, writing a review of the literature, identifying a theoretical framework, and choosing a methodology.

It is important to recognize that a methodology plan developed for empirical research needs to be derived from the literature and fill a “gap” in the literature. This literature must be primarily peer-reviewed. For example, a peer-reviewed journal article is one that has been reviewed by several experts in the field and approved before it was accepted for publication. A problem statement and purpose statement usually precede the discussion of the research methods.

Research Tutorials and Handouts

Each of the topics discussed in How to Begin the Research Process have handouts, and each handout contains four primary sections:

  • Introduction. The introduction provides an overview of the chapter.
  • Topical Discussion. The topical discussion  overviews the research on the topic of interest and provides information about how it relates to the development of your research plan. There are also tips and recommendations provided here.
  • Case Application. The case application section takes each topic and demonstrates how it can be applied to the case of “Charlie.”
  • Application: Developing My Research Plan. The purpose of the application section is to help you plan your research proposal by transferring learning from the book to your own research plan. This will set you up for success.

There are also  tutorials. Each tutorial is based in Flash and each handout is in PDF format. As such, to play the Flash tutorials, you will need to have Adobe Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader installed.

Step 1: Identifying Your Topic and Ensuring it is a Researchable Idea

Step 2: Build a Literature Review and Identify a Theoretical Framework

Step 3: Selecting Your Research Approach, Problem, and Purpose