Skip to Main Content

The Library at the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville

Reference Resources

The Research Process

The Research Process helps researchers conduct thorough research on a topic. The steps are as follows:

  1. Identify and develop your topic.
  2. Find background information on your topic to plan your search. This could involve class readings, encyclopedias, Wikipedia.
  3. Find credible sources using library resources: ebooks, articles. Start with the main search box or individual databases
  4. Evaluate the sources you find. 
  5. Cite the sources/information you use using the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, etc.)

To help you get started with your research, we will discuss the first two steps below. Check out The Research Process guide for a complete understanding of all seven steps in the process.

1. Identify and develop your topic.

  • When choosing your topic be sure that it:
    1. Is appropriate for the assignment.
    2. A manageable size.
    3. Interests you.
  • If you don't have ideas for a topic, consider:‚Äč
    1. Browsing your course materials (syllabus, textbook, assignments, etc.)
    2. Talking with your instructor or peers.
    3. Browsing a recent issues of a journal within the field.
  • Turn your topic into a question:
    1. What do you want to know about your topic?
    2. What questions about your topic have already been asked or still need to be answered?
    3. When you start to conduct your research, look for sources that examine similar questions on the topic.

2. Find background information on your topic and plan your search.

  • Find background information on your topic by using reference materials or a source that provides overview.
    1. Check to see if your textbook has any information about your topic.
    2. Encyclopedias are a great place to start for background information and a selected bibliography. 
    3. Try looking in a few electronic reference resources are listed on the left.
  • Plan your search.
    1. Create concept map of your topic.
    2. Pick out keywords from the topic question and concept map you created.
    3. Figure out what types of sources you will need (book, journal article, etc.).
  • With three keywords and an idea of what sources you will need, you're ready to search! For a list of subject resources, check out the LibGuides below.

Still having trouble? Set up an appointment with one of our librarians! 


A Libguide is a list of librarian-curated sources specific to a field of study or topic. They are created to help students easily find content related to their research.

To find resources specific to your field of study, choose from the LibGuides below or browse all of our research guides.