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Library Research Skills: Research as Inquiry for Approach 2

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
  • Be prepared to test a research topic and then narrow, broaden or even change elements to arrive at a research question
  • Document the research process
    • Start a research log either digital (for example EVERNOTE) or print 
    • Record all references relevant to your research interest in a Working Bibliography
    • Use bibliographic management applications to record references and PDF files (Zotero, RefWorks)

Steps in the Process

The purpose of the research process is not simply to find information but to identify a relevant research question(s).

  1. Identify a topic
  2. Conduct a preliminary search
    • Keywords (scholars, concepts, theories, authors, titles
    • Identify possible research questions
  3. Frame your research topic
    • Complete a mind map
    • Define a research topic
    • Refine a research topic
  4. List concepts and known-item search terms
  5. Test your research question(s)


Explore the following resources to help identify a relevant research interest.


Checkpoint: What is my general research interest?

Is humour translatable?



Use tertiary sources:
  • Identify scholars relevant to your topic
  • Define and describe terms and concepts relevant to your topic
  • Identify elements to focus on, for example - medium, genre, language pair, source/target title, author/translator


Use general research databases and resources


Checkpoint: What are the specific elements of your general research topic

Is humour translatable?

  • Ask questions: who, what, where, when, how, why
  • Identify elements to focus on: medium, genre, period, language pair, source/target title, author/translator, research areas, theoretical framework


Complete a mind map

Use a mind map to:

  • Describe what you have already discovered about your topic in your preliminary search.
  • To identify gaps in your research
  • Plan your literature search
  • Identify search terms
  • Define and refine a research question

Create an online mind map using Exam Time



Define your research topic:


Using The Map (pg. 28-29) define the process and aim of your research question

  • Step 1: I am working on a comparison of a translation to its source text
  • Step 2: I want to know about the English translation of a modern Arabic  novel – “The Yacoubian Building”
  • Step 3: I want to understand what procedures and strategies the translator used to translate cultural elements like humour from Arabic into English
  • Step 4: I want to contribute to the development of an understanding of the translation of the Arabic / English language pair, especially in translating humor


Refine your research topic:

Restate your research topic as a question:

What strategies does the translator use to translate humour in “The Yacoubian Building”?

Include in your research log or diary, a repository of search terms from your preliminary research and mind map in preparation for the next stage of the research process – identifying, locating and evaluating resources on your specific research question


  • Bibliographic details of articles, chapters in books, books, etc
  • Names of relevant scholars, authors and translators


  • Keywords/synonyms that describe or identify elements of the research question


  • 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?
    • Too little? You may have to broaden your topic and use less specific search terms.
    • Too much?  Narrow your topic and focus on a specific aspect
  • Is there enough time to cover the information required to answer the question(s)?
    • Narrow your topic according to the time allotted and the expected length of the paper.


  • Are the resources, required to answer the research question(s), available to you?
    • Anticipate what kind of sources you would need  and  their availability – for example, primary resources (example of source and target texts to analyse)

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)