The Research Process
You'll see by the image below that research is NOT a linear process. You don't go from topic to database to paper. Rather, research can be cyclical -- starting with a topic, getting background information on a topic to develop a research question, then researching. You may go back and have to refine your topic, or you might move on to synthesizing information. After synthesizing you may further need to develop your topic, or you may move on to writing your paper. As you're in the process of documenting your sources, you may also need to go back and retrieve information before turning in your final product. There are many steps in between these main steps, as well, such as writing a first draft, getting feedback, revising your paper, researching some more, and so on. No one's research process looks the same!
Based off of: http://www.otis.edu/library/research-cycle