False Bay College

Steps in Conducting Research

Step 1: Decide on a topic

  • state the research question
  • develop a topic
  • find a narrower perspective by asking aseries of questions about the topic

Step 2: Develop an overview of the topic

  • gather background information
  • refine your topic
  • develop a general bibliography

Step 3: Determine the information requirements

  • determine the information requirements for the research question
  • decidewhere you will find the information you need

Step 4: Organise the information

  • make sure you write down where you found any information for your reference lis
  • format your citations using standard formats e.g. Harvard style of referencing

Step 5: Analyze and evaluate the information

  • analyze your notes
  • discard notes that do not relate to your information requirements

Step 6: Synthesize the information

  • refine your research based upon the information compiled, read, and considered
  • outline your project
  • begin to write your paper

Step 7: Communicate/present the research

  • communicate your research in the format required by your lecturer
  • properly use citations to avoid plagiarism

Glossary of Task words


What they mean


Break an issue down into its component parts, discuss them and show how they interrelate.


Consider the value or importance of something, paying due attention to positive, negative and disputable aspects, and citing the judgments of any known authorities as well as your own.


Make a case, based on appropriate evidence for and/or against some given point of view.


Identify the characteristics or qualities two or more things have in common (but probably pointing out their differences as well.


Point out the differences between two things (but probably point out their similarities as well).


Spell out your judgment as to the value or truth of something, indicating the criteria on which you base your judgment and citing specific instances of how the criteria apply in this case.


Make a statement as to the meaning or interpretation of something, giving sufficient detail so as to allow it to be distinguished from similar things.


Spell out the main aspects of an idea or topic or the sequence in which a series of things happened.


Investigate or examine by argument. Examine key points and possible interpretations, scrutinize and debate, giving reasons for and against. Draw a conclusion.


Make an appraisal or the worth of something, in the light of its apparent truth; include your personal opinion. Like ‘assess’.


List some relevant items, possibly in continuous prose (rather than note form) - and perhaps ‘describe’ them


Present in depth and investigate the implications.


Pick out what you regard as the key features of something, perhaps making clear the criteria you use.


Similar to ‘explain’ (see above), but probably asking for the quoting of specific examples or statistics or possibly the drawing of maps, graphs, sketches, etc.


Express valid reasons for accepting a particular interpretation or conclusion, probably including the need to ‘argue’ (see above) a case.


Indicate the main features of a topic or sequence of events, possibly setting them within a clear structure or framework to show how they interrelate.