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Research Process

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


  • Ask questions about your topic
  • Develop a research question

Topic Narrowing Worksheet

Step 4 - a deeper explanation

  • Identify inquiry question
  • Pause and ponder
  • Decide direction

In Identify, learners pause in the inquiry process to ask a meaningful inquiry question and form a focus.  In Guided Inquiry, they have had lots of preparation for this phase.  Students are ready to identify an important question for their inquiry because of the time they have spent immersing and exploring to build enough background knowledge to ask many meaningful questions.

The main task of the Identify phase is for students to construct an inquiry question from the interesting ideas, pressing problems, and emerging themes they have explored in various sources of information.  The team introduces strategies that enable each student to sort through information and ideas to clearly articulate a meaningful inquiry question that will frame the rest of the inquiry.

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. 56–57.