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Research Process

This libguide walks the reader through the Information Search Process as outlined by Dr. Carol Kuhlthau.


  • Pick something and try it on for size
  • Collect ideas​ instead of facts

Cite as you go!

Step 3 - a deeper explanation

  • Explore interesting ideas
  • Look around
  • Dip in

In the Explore phase of Guided Inquiry, students browse through various sources of information to explore interesting ideas and prepare to develop their inquiry questions.  In this critical, early phase of constructing new learning, students need to explore ideas rather than accumulate facts.  The Learning Team guides students to browse and scan a variety of sources.  Students dip into a few sources to make sense of the information they find and raise lots of new questions.

In the Explore phase, students survey a wide range of sources, read when they find something interesting, and reflect on questions that begin to shape their inquiry.  Students often become overwhelmed by all the information and confused by the ideas that don't fit together.  The Learning Team guides students to keep an open mind as they explore and reflect on new information.  Guiding students through the Explore phase leads them to form a meaningful inquiry question.

Kuhlthau, Carol Collier, et al. “Guided Inquiry Design Framework.” Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century, 2nd ed., Libraries Unlimited, Santa Barbara, CA, 2015, pp. 56–56.