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MGHC02: Management Skills

Summer 2024

10 Steps to Expert Research Skills

As a UTSC Management student, you are required to have outstanding research skills for both assignments and job readiness. Follow these 10 steps to develop your research expertise. 

  1. Background reading
  2. Know what you need
  3. List search terms
  4. Select a source
  5. Review results
  6. Download articles & books
  7. Evaluate findings
  8. Read
  9. Integrate research into paper
  10. Cite your sources

1. Background reading

Do some background reading so you understand your topic.

2. Know what you need

What information do you need to complete this assignment? What have you learned in class that relates to the assignment? List the information you need. 

For example, do you need...

  • a company profile?
  • a certain number of peer-reviewed articles?
  • real-world examples of human resources functions? 
  • economics data?

3. List your search terms

List keywords that relate each concept in your research (use a thesaurus, course readings, or lecture notes for ideas).

For example: "Is there a significant relationship between openness and employee performance?"


  • openness = open, intellectual, curious, thoughtful, creative
  • performance = evaluation, achievement

Put them together using operators. This is what you'll use to search databases. 

  • (openness OR intellectual OR curious) AND ("employee performance" OR evaluation OR achievement) 
    • AND will give you fewer results
    • OR will give you more results
    • Use "QUOTATION MARKS" for 2+ words

4. Select sources

What kind of information do you need? Every database is different. Modify your search strategy if needed. 

  • Academic journal articles (including Peer-Review)
  • Books/e-Books
  • Data & statistics
  • Company profiles
  • Country reports
  • Industry reports
  • News
  • Google

5. Scan results

Scan the titles and abstracts (summaries) in your result list. Assess the number of results and content. 

  • Too many results? Narrow your topic by region, population, perspective (ie: North America, post-recession, political)
  • Not enough results? Remove keywords, use less specific language, check your spelling
  • Are the results answering your questions? If not, go back to Step 3, and change your keywords. 

6. Download articles & books

Download articles 

  • Click the article title or on the "Get it! UTL" button to locate the full text of an article in the University of Toronto Libraries' collection.  When you click it, you will be brought to a page that has the full text of the article or a link to it (usually HTML or PDF).

Off-Campus Access

7. Decide what will make it into your final paper

After reading abstracts and articles, decide which articles to use to support the ideas and arguments in your paper.

Ask yourself:

  • Is it up to date?
  • Is it relevant to your assignment?
  • Is the author an expert?
  • Is it objective?

Is it Peer-Reviewed?

Peer review is the process by which scholars critically appraise each other's work. It is intended to ensure a high level of scholarship in a journal and to improve the quality and readability of a manuscript. The terms "peer reviewed" and "refereed" mean the same thing.  are the same.

How do you know if the articles in a journal are peer-reviewed?

Some databases allow you to limit to peer-reviewed articles. For other databases, you need to look up the title of the journal in Ulrich's Periodical Directory.  Search for the journal title (not article title) click on to see the full record. If it says "Refereed: Yes," then you know the journal (and the articles published in it) are refereed/peer-reviewed.

 Image of Ulrich's home page and search box

Image of Ulrich's journal record

8. Read

Critical Reading

To read critically is to make judgments about how a text is argued. This is a highly reflective skill requiring you to “stand back” and gain some distance from the text you are reading. (You might have to read a text through once to get a basic grasp of content before you launch into an intensive critical reading.) THE KEY IS THIS:

  • don’t read looking only or primarily for information
  • do read looking for ways of thinking about the subject matter

When you are reading, highlighting, or taking notes, avoid extracting and compiling lists of evidence, lists of facts and examples. Avoid approaching a text by asking “What information can I get out of it?” Rather ask “How does this text work? How is it argued? How is the evidence (the facts, examples, etc.) used and interpreted? How does the text reach its conclusions?



9. Integrate Research Into Your Paper

Consider the following as you read through research and write your paper:

  • Have I provided enough relevant evidence to convince the reader of my claims?
  • Have I explained how the evidence supports my claims?
  • Have I used innovative and current evidence, rather than stating obvious/outdated information?
  • Have I cited the sources of evidence?

Adapted from here.