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Planning your Research

This stage of the research lifecycle is incredibly important if you want your research to run smoothly. Our experts on staff can help you create an efficient, effective road map to get you where you need to be at the end of your project.


Before deciding how to tackle your research project, you first have to define the question/questions you want to answer. Often in research we are looking for the gaps in existing research, or previous research to replicate. In both cases, it is a good idea to explore the existing literature on your subject, to get an idea of what has been done and how you might build upon that foundation.

If your topic involves social science, we recommend you check out our digital data repository, UNC Dataverse, which houses one of the largest collections of social science research data in the world. Not what you’re looking for? Contact our archivists at for help finding other resources.

What type of data do you want to collect?

These consultants are available for short consultations free of charge to UNC students, faculty and staff and can help if you are struggling with this step:

  • Quantitative data (numerical data collected most often through surveys and questionnaires): Contact Cathy Zimmer
  • Qualitative data (non-numerical data collected most often through interviews, focus groups and ethnography): Contact Paul Mihas
  • Big data (numerical and textual data collected from the Internet, often through web-scraping or similar activities): Contact Bill Shi
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