Getting Started With a Research Project

  • Keep a journal or a list of interesting topics or unanswered questions that arise throughout your studies. This will be helpful in choosing a topic for research when the opportunity arises.
  • After selecting a topic, construct several research questions that you hope your research will answer. Write down all questions initially. You can be more selective as you narrow your interest and research plan.
  • Find a mentor or advisor. Almost all institutions require a faculty advisor for graduate students conducting research. Try to find a faculty member with similar interests or experience with the type of research you wish to conduct. Be sure to establish the level of involvement and commitment of your advisor from the beginning.
  • With the aid of your advisor, write out a research plan. This should include the finalized research questions, the method of collecting data, the population of research subjects and methods of analyzing collected data.
  • The research project will need to be approved by your school’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB will progress through varying levels of review depending on the proposed project. Projects with a greater risk to human subjects require more review prior to approval. You can contact your institution’s IRB committee for more specific instructions.
  • Upon receiving IRB approval, proceed with the research project. Be sure to follow the protocol established in your research plan when conducting the research.

Tips for Publishing

  • Begin by reading articles published in the same genre in which you wish to publish. You can learn how to write scholarly articles by noticing which articles you understand the best and enjoy the most.
  • Begin with shorter pieces. They may be easier to get published. Articles that summarize or give an account of a conference are worth writing. Other easier genres with which to begin include historical pieces or surveys of already existing literature.
  • Write a rough draft of your article. Accept the constructive criticism and suggestions of those who read your article. Revise the article with the audience in mind. To write clearly, try to cut down the words without removing content or meaning. Be mindful of the organization of the article. Try to present the information in a way that highlights the ways in which your article differs from those written in the past on the same topic.
  • Carefully select the journals to which you send your article. Try to balance the journals to which you apply. Balance the journals in which you would ideally be published with the ones in which you have a greater likelihood of being published. Research which journals are most likely to publish the type of article you have written.
  • Consider publishing in The Professional Counselor: Research and Practice, the official academic journal of NBCC. Visit for details.
  • Before sending your manuscript, send the publisher a cover letter describing the work they are about to receive.
  • Accept revise and resubmit letters as an opportunity to improve your work rather than seeing them as a rejection letter. The review committee has taken the time to offer suggestions that are likely to increase chances of publication in the future.