The Steps in a Research Project
There are seven major steps in any research project. Note the outline on page 31. Together they suggest that any research project follows a systematic plan. However, the actual process is usually much more complicated because you may be forced by circumstances to skip around, go back several steps in order to make some revisions, or even define the topic in a slightly different way because of the sources you found or could not locate. There may be many good reasons to deviate from this plan of attack or to return to an earlier step. For this reason we have included the dotted lines at the far right. However, try as much as possible to stay on track and proceed sequentially through the seven steps.
The chart and the outline refer particularly to a research paper. Projects of other types, in general, follow the same major steps, but each has its own special demands as well.
In every case it is a good idea for a beginning student to use the appropriate chart along with a calendar to plot a schedule for the project. There are deadlines to meet, other assignments to complete, a social life to consider, and perhaps a job to work. Remember that research and writing are done best in consistently large blocks of time (two to four hours). Like anything worthwhile, doing a history research project takes a considerable amount of time.
If you devote a week to each major step in the flowchart, you can expect to spend a total of about seven weeks on your history project. But be prepared to spend at least three of those weeks on Step III, researching, and perhaps an extra week on writing the first draft in Step V since this is usually the hardest part to do. Remember that time to revise your paper is essential. Even the most gifted writers need time for revision and correction.
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