“That sense of contributing to a community is never more rewarding than when you discover something that you believe can improve your readers’ lives by changing what and how they think."
--Wayne C. Booth
This page includes resources on the general research process across disciplines , and for researchers of various kinds, including students and the general public.
For more specific, discipline-focused resources and methodologies, see the list of research guides linked below, Subject Guides for your areas of study, or some of our SAGE Research Methods databases.
Key questions for beginning researchers:
1. What are your research questions? What are you trying to understand, analyze, explain, argue, or demonstrate through empirical evidence or persuasive argument? Your questions should be relevant to your field of study and address the needs of other researchers, practitioners, students, or general audiences. This is the What of your research.
2. What is your methodology/approach? Are you gathering and analyzing new data, working with existing data from previous studies, using case studies or interviews, reviewing the literature on a topic, offering an original theoretical argument, explaining a project or process in your workplace, etc.? This is the How of your research.
3. Who is your audience? Are you primarily addressing other researchers in your field, professionals in applied fields, students (at what level?), policy-makers or the general public? This will help determine what kind of journal or other publication you want to aim for and what kind of methods and analysis you’ll need in order to explain your research and results to those audiences. This is the Who of your research.
4. What impact or effect do you hope to have on the discipline? What are you hoping that readers take away from your work? How would you like them to make use of it? What new ideas, methods, approaches, or attitudes do you hope to encourage through your work? This is the Why of your research.