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Scholarly Research Resources

This guide describes the various services available to students participating on one of Texas Tech's law journals.

Scholarly Research Process

The research process is a continuous cycle. Research does not follow a one-way linear progression; rather, it is a continuous process of checking and re-checking, evaluating and analyzing, and repeating the entire process over and over again. While painstaking, the research process is enables writers to become subject matter experts and draft a publishable article, comment, or case note.

There are many different ways to break down the research process. For our purposes, we’ve broken the process down into 6 steps:

1. Analyze

First, establish the purpose of your research. What is your topic, question, or problem? Define the scope of your research, know what you are looking for, and avoid the rabbit holes. When researching it’s easy to get off topic and after hours of researching realize you’ve drifted too far away from your topic. By defining a specific scope—the scope will change throughout the process—you will find pertinent and relevant information for each stage of your research. You may have to do some preliminary, background research on the issue you are interested in before narrowing your scope.

2. Determine Research Tools

The research tools you will use vary depending on what topic you are researching as well as what step in the research process you are on. Initially, you may look for secondary sources that enable you to get a better grasp of what your topic or problems entails. As your topic develops, you will need to determine what type of sources you are looking for. For example, government websites often have search features that provide both legislative histories and other reasoning behind certain bills and treaties being passed. Scientific websites may offer more numerical and hard factual data analysis. If a specific business or industry is relevant you will need to know what resources are most helpful for researching information pertinent to the field.

Students in need of help narrowing down which resources to use should contact Professor Arrington to set up a research consult on their paper.

3. Search

The first search will often include preliminary data gathering that generally ensures you have appropriately identified the issue. This preliminary search will be used to help you develop your thesis statement, and guide the remainder of your research.

The search process will develop and become increasingly in-depth each time you repeat the process. This steps evolves from the preliminary search of secondary resources and becomes a detailed review of primary sources. The material you search for evolves as you grasp the full extent of your topic and create a well-defined thesis.

4. Evaluate

Take time to review the sources you have gathered and ensure your topic and question are still relevant. This means conducting a preemption check to ensure your topic and question are still relevant.

5. Keep a Record

Keep a list of the sources you have used, how you located those sources, and how each is helpful to your paper. An annotated bibliography is a great way to ensure that you can recall where the information came from when you begin the writing process.

6. Repeat

The research process is a cycle, so once you’ve completed preliminary research, you go back through the cycle. After preliminary analysis, determining the appropriate research tools, searching, evaluating, and recording what you’ve found, begin again. Using the information you have already located, re-analyze your topic or thesis, consider what sub-issues still need further research, and follow the steps again with those issues in mind. Your research will continue to evolve as you write drafts of your paper, as you will begin to see missing pieces that need further research.