Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Banner Image

Info Lit Training 2021 (GAs) Student Workers

Research as Inquiry


Research involves gathering data and analyzing information to answer a question.

Research as Inquiry refers to an understanding that research is an iterative (repetitious) process and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.

Questions to consider:

  • Why do we do research?
  • How can we formulate a research question?
  • What are effective search terms?


We seek information to answer questions or explain issues and problems.

A research question may relate to personal, academic,  professional, or societal needs.

Many times, students develop questions that are either too broad or too narrow. It takes practice to develop a good research question. Performing some "pre-research" is very helpful to get an idea of what kind of information is available on your topic. 



FINDING SEARCH TERMS: (Thesaurus/Subject Terms)

Once we formulate a research question and determine the best resources to use, we need to find search terms (keywords) that provide useful results.  Several of the library databases have a thesaurus that can assist us with this process.  The thesaurus  contains an official list of subject terms ("tags") that can be assigned to an article by professional indexers/subject specialists catalogers. The terms are standardized so you don't have to figure out all the ways different authors could refer to the same concept. Applying subject terms will provide you with a more targeted search and often better results.

You can find thesaurus terms by:

  • Using the thesaurus in a database
  • Looking at the subject terms listed under an article in the results list or on the article details page
  • Looking at the Refine options in a database, e.g., "Subject Thesaurus Terms," Subject: Major Heading," or "Subject Terms"