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Library Research Skills: Research as Inquiry Approach 1

Library Research Skills

Developing & Framing a Research Interest


  • Conducting research takes time, the steps are repetitive and the gains can be incremental.
  • There are preferred practices but no “one size fits all” approach to research
  • Prepare to change course a few times within your research interest 

Initial Steps in the Process

  1. Establish your research interest
  2. Start a Research Diary
    • Choose a version that works for you - digital (for example EVERNOTE) or print (read The Thesis Whisperer )
    • Record all references relevant to your research interest in a Working Bibliography
    • Use bibliographic management applications to record references and PDF files (Zotero, RefWorks)
  3. Conduct a preliminary search and establish
    • Key terms (scholars, concepts, theories, authors, titles)
    • Research questions / problem
  4. Test your research question / problem


What topics and questions have continually interested you? Personally significant topics will keep you interested and help drive the research and writing process.


  • Review list of topics you may have collected for this purpose.
  • Review topics of interest covered in past lectures, seminars and readings, etc.
  • Explore formal and informal resources for current and critical issues in Translation Studies
  • Investigate current list of theses for possible re-examination in a new context or using a different methodology. 
  • Engage with faculty, scholars and professionals with similar research interest


1. Identify an area of research relevant to your topic


The Map: A Beginner's Guide to Doing Research in Translation Studies

Use tertiary sources to:

2. Identify scholars relevant to your topic within the identified areas of research

‚Äč3. Define and describe terms and concepts relevant to your topic within the identified areas of research. 

4. Identify theoretical frameworks to orient your research interest

Use general and multidisciplinary tools to:

5. Establish background knowledge of the primary source or concept to be investigated

The purpose of the preliminary study is to:

1. Build a vocabulary of relevant key terms


2. Identify key scholars and core readings


3. Compose possible research questions



Read the abstract for the following thesis:  “Procedures and Strategies in the Translation into Malay of Cultural Elements of Rihlat Ibn Battuta

Using The Map (pg. 28-29), the research topic may have been constructed, thus:

  • Step 1: I am working on a comparison of a translation to its source text
  • Step 2: I want to know about the translation of the 14th century source text Rihlat Ibn Battuta into the Malay
  • Step 3: I want to understand what procedures and strategies the translator used to translate cultural elements from Arabic into Malay
  • Step 4: I want to contribute to the development of an understanding of the translation of the Arabic / Malay language pair, especially in translating cultural differences.
Test your Research Question(s) / Problem



  • Has someone already answered your research question?

“So what” factor

  • Is it relevant?
  • Is the answer obvious?
  • Why would other scholars find your project compelling?
  • Will the answers add to the knowledge base and affect future research in your discourse community?


  • Is there enough information on the topic?
  • Is there enough time to cover the information required to answer the question(s)?


  • Are the resources, required to answer the research question(s), available to you?

Ethical Considerations

  • Will you be able to obtain the proper permissions required to investigate your topic?


Research as Inquiry

Research is a process which is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex questions.

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)