General outline of the Documentary Research process

Well, I continue with the publications of academic content, specifically what has to do with my work area, which are the Scientific Research Methodology classes, this time I will translate a post on Documentary Design Research.

I previously published it in Spanish and shared it, you can check it at

Some time ago I published in another blog a scheme that summarized what the steps of a documentary investigation were, I would like to share it now accompanied by a brief explanation of the elements indicated in the image.

Esquema general de proceso de investigación Documental 2.png

The site where I published it before was in MethodologyECS, and there you can find both the image and a version of it in PDF format. I have to point out that the scheme was raised under a quantitative research approach and a certain equivalence can be found in it with the general stages or steps of the Scientific Method under this approach.

Documentary Observation

Well, things are essentially simple, it all starts with a process of selecting the thematic area for research, after clarifying a vision of the particular topic then we will be already in what Montero and Hochman called Documentary Observation, that is, a stage of the investigation in which the contents are perceived, the key points are identified and extracted from the documents to contrast them with our theoretical interpretations in order to question ourselves and generate a research problem that is approachable with a documentary investigation


When the data and information collected is organized, which makes sense within a file for research, an archiving of sources is being met, in order to clearly identify the state of the art or current level of knowledge of the issue in which there is the problem we have raised.

Initial Scheme

When the data and information are organized, together with the interpretations and reflections that are generated, giving the research archive a proper sense and oriented to respond to the problem we have posed, we are then creating a guiding thread for the final product from work.

In this initial scheme, in past times, what we had collected in the research files was used, nowadays it is done directly in computer systems and the personal content blocks and those of contents that are summarized or cited can be organized of the sources or authors consulted, it should be noted that it is the first attempt to make sense of one's own ideas with support for the available sources.

Content Writing

As the name of this stage indicates, it corresponds to the moment of writing the contents based on the work scheme that we have followed. There is not much to say about it and to a large extent the writing formats and the questions of style will depend on the rules that we are following, which is usually defined by the institution for which we are writing, be it a magazine, a university, An institute or any other.


At this stage the wording we have done for a critical process on our part, in order to verify that its internal and external consistency is optimal, a very interesting detail is that this stage is in a circuit with the previous one of the wording of contents, while if the result of the evaluation of the draft is not acceptable, then we go back to rewrite until the resulting draft is considered satisfactory.

Final Investigation Report

Already complying with the draft and satisfied with the results of the evaluation, whether it is carried out on its own or by an external evaluator, we will then be giving the final format adjustments for publication, in the case for which it develops this Scheme is simply the class delivery of the work report, but in other circumstances that may include publication for a wider audience.


Like all scientific research, documentary research must be of public results or at least available to the public of the area, so obviously when it is published its dissemination is sought or at least if its condition is such that it is possible that other people have their content, with this, upon contacting the readers of the field, it is expected that their vision of reality will increase their horizons, modifying what they are able to know about the subject in a new documentary observation for some other research.

In the image it was missing to place the line that goes from the publication of the final report of the observation to the initial stage of the documentary observation again, because it is a fundamental part of the characteristics of scientific knowledge to make public what is discovered or reflections on the knowledge that is being built, it usually happens that we consider it tacit.

And the Archive?

Ok, this is an important point. As such, the archive is not properly a stage or step within the process of documentary research, but is a continuous creation that is generated from the early stages and constitutes the reflection and collection of knowledge acquired from sources and knowledge that those who investigate have managed to develop on the reality they are studying.

It is possible to have any document in the Research Archive, and its material support nowadays is usually digital, many times I see my students uploading their material captures, their interpretation notes, the photos they take directly to virtual servers or clouds takes of the books, the links of the sites they visit on the Web, voice notes, videos and much more ... To some extent I feel that I studied in the Stone Age hahaha

Comments 4

Hi @pedrobrito2004
As a university professor I believe that this type of publication is very enriching since it is a very good basic reference, the handling of well used techniques of Scientific Research Methodology,
in the years of career I see that point is a weakness that is repeated much in the students at the time of doing any type of research.

Greetings my good friend.

11.11.2019 12:05

Thanks for the comment.

Something that I comment a lot to my students is that the first step is to learn about the "state of the art" so documentary research should be the basis for starting any other process.

I think I also agree with a classification that I believe was from Kant, on a certain ordering of capacities for knowledge:

  • Memory
  • Reason
  • Imagination

Since we must first learn to remember what has been done in the field of knowledge, in order to use reason and reflect in order to project new paths of knowledge.

I also find that the subject is very tedious for my students, but I try to understand that it is like when they learned to write, first they have to repeat a basic pattern, follow a guide model and when they master the question they can use it for anything they need ... Sometimes there are students who get it fast and are dedicated to mastering techniques, instruments, methodology and understanding the logic of scientific methods.

11.11.2019 15:16

Resteemed and upvoted already @pedrobrito2004 :)

14.11.2019 09:05

Thanks a Lot! @project.hope

14.11.2019 12:19