If you want to visualize the research process you can imagine it as a cycle of actions. However, you will not be able to ignore that at each stage of the cycle you will be experiencing different feelings.
Uncertainty: Researchers tend to enter the research process experiencing uncertainty. This is only natural as you begin the research process, you either don’t have a topic and you need to find one, or you have a topic, but you don’t know where to start from. This means that you haven’t clearly defined your information needs yet.
Optimism: As soon as you define your topic or you identify where you should start your research from, a sense of optimism makes you feel better and ready to start.
Confusion & frustration: You design your research strategy, but this brings up unpleasant feelings like confusion and frustration once again. This happens basically, because there are many strategies that you could develop and you don’t know if you have chosen the one that will return the best results to help you support and develop your topic.
Clarity & confidence: You access and retrieve information sources. This will give you a sense of confidence and will clearly identify how you should develop your topic.
Satisfaction: You evaluate the information you find, which may finally provide you with a sense of satisfaction. At this stage you decide about the quality of the information you find and how this supports your arguments.
At any point of the research cycle you may have to redefine, redesign or reevaluate your information needs, your topic, the resources, or the topic development. This will bring you back to the cycle. The starting point is never clear. You may enter or exit the cycle at any point of the process. Even when you finalize your research, new questions will emerge and you or other researchers may wish to delve into the research process and produce new knowledge all over again.
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