Workflows are the stepwise processes that help us to organize research consistently and methodically, giving you the confidence to draw genuine insights from your data. Below is an example of one main workflow: secondary source research. For now, this workflow is mainly for illustrative purposes. We will adapt this one and add others as we need them.

Sample Workflow: Secondary Source Research

Secondary source research begins with a question–one that identifies what you want to learn from the literature–and proceeds through a structured process of reviewing, documenting, interpreting and synthesizing the material you discover.

Workflow Summary

1. Question → 2. Search → 3. Source → 4. Cite → 5. Note → 6. Synthesis

In more detail…

  • Question: define your research question (alone or in collaboration with others) and gather feedback if needed (for example, by posting it to a “Research Questions” channel on Mattermost). Even if you’ve been assigned a question by someone else, ask yourself: is there another way to frame this question to better learn what we want to know? Keep your research question out in front of you as you work through the research process.

  • Search: construct your initial boolean search string. Gather feedback if needed (for example, by posting it to a “Seach Strings” channel on Mattermost). Run your search string in the appropriate database(s), briefly review the results, and revise your search if you can find a better search string to answer your research question.

  • Source: based on title and abstract/headnote, select the full-text of sources from your search to scan quickly and identify for inclusion in or exclusion from your research.

  • Cite: after selecting a source for inclusion, immediately download it, enter the citation information in the reference database and attach the source file (Zotero). Do this before you start reading in detail and taking notes.

  • Read: read the source (either scanning or in detail) with your research question at the forefront of your mind. Create a literature note that briefly describes the content of the source, including key points.

  • Note: create one research note–written in your own words–for each idea you wish to capture from the source. Add tags. Ensure that you pinpoint cite for each idea referenced. For notes of particular interest to others, share what you’ve learned (for example, by posting the note or a synopsis to the relevant Mattermost channel).

  • Synthesis: for each research note created, add links to other relevant research notes in order to connect ideas and topics to one another.