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HSE 225 (Crisis Intervention): The Research Process

Information for students working on the Crisis Intervention Paper.

Why Do Research?

Doing research is not easy. However, knowing how to do it and write about it will help you out tremendously in your career.

The Research Process

The Research Process

1: Identify your topic. It’s helpful to state your topic as a question. For example, if you’re interested in researching heart disease, you could ask the questions: “What causes heart disease?” or “How is heart disease treated?” Turning your topic into a question helps narrow down your research.

2: Develop search terms. Before doing any searching, brainstorm some search terms you might use.  This helps give your research some direction. Then, as  you continue on in the research process, add more search terms as you think of them.

3: Conduct a search. Start with the library.  Search the library catalog to find some books on the topic. Then visit the library website to search the library databases. Then search the Internet—but be careful what websites you use! Not everything on the Internet is trustworthy and accurate.

4: Evaluate your information. Make sure you’re using reliable, up-to-date information. Before using a source in your paper, find out where the information came from. Who wrote the information? Are they experts in the field? What are their credentials? What’s their purpose (are they trying to inform you or sell you a product/service)? When did they write it? Is it up-to-date?

5: Cite your sources. You will have to state where you found your information. As you find sources you want to use, start keeping track of where you found it, who wrote it, and when it was written. For help citing your sources, visit the Individualized Learning Center. 

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic to research and write about can be overwhelming. Quite often, students choose topics that are either too broad or too narrow. 

Here are some tips to consider when choosing a research topic:

  • Research what interests you. If you choose a topic that interests you, you're more likely to enjoy the research process. Try listing the topics/areas/subjects that you enjoy learning about. Ask yourself what exactly you enjoy about each one. Why do you like it? What do you NOT know about it? All these questions can help you select a topic.
  • Research what you do NOT know. The research process is about learning. You do research to answer questions, to fill in holes in your knowledge. Choosing a topic that you already know a lot about (or have had experience with) can sometimes make doing research even harder. So, select a topic that you don't know much about. Ask yourself what it is you do not know. Make a list of questions you have related to the topic.
  • Phrase your topic as a question. As stated above, research is done to answer a question. Therefore, look at what you do NOT know about a topic. Then, phrase your topic as a question. For example, let's say you're interested in researching rape. However, rape is a very broad topic. Therefore, you can break the topic down further. Perhaps you want to know more about a particular group (for example, young women) or a particular location (for example, college campuses). Your research question could then be "How would I assess and intervene in a rape case on a college campus?" 

Brainstorming Your Topic

Still not sure what topic to research? There are lots of brainstorming techniques available. This webpage from the UNC Writing Center has a list of brainstorming techniques you could try: