How to Begin Your Research

Getting Started

When you are assigned a project or paper, does your mind turn blank? Are you unsure as to where to start? If so, you're not alone!

Everyone experiences this at some time or other, but some people have strategies or techniques to get them started. When you are planning a project, presentation or paper, try some of the following suggestions.

EXPLORE the problem -- not the topic

  1. Who is your audience? Is it your professor, other students, or perhaps a boss?
  2. What is your purpose and how can you achieve it?

DETERMINE your goals

How can you achieve your purpose?
Can you make a plan?
What resources will help you meet your goals?

GENERATE some ideas


  • Ask for help from the library, your professor, and classmates
  • Write down your ideas, and others' ideas -don't censor or evaluate them yet -keep returning to the problem

Talk to your audience

  • What questions might they ask?
  • What different kinds of audiences might you have?
  • Do you have the answers to their potential questions?
  • If not, how can you locate the answers?