Archaeological research at the Oriental Institute falls into several categories: 1) on-going field projects that involve excavations, regional surveys and environmental studies, and preliminary publication; 2) analysis and publication of recently completed field projects; 3) special studies of published or unpublished data from previous expeditions; and 4) broadly synthetic interpretative studies based on ancient Near Eastern archaeological, philological, and historical literature.

In general, research in the first two categories is collaborative, involving members of the faculty, research staff, and graduate students, often including collaborators from other institutions as well. These projects require specialists in archaeozoology, art history, environmental studies, ethnobotany, epigraphy, geomorphology, materials science, and remote sensing. Some of these specialities are represented on the Institute staff (epigraphy, geomorphology, remote sensing) and the others are recruited from other institutions. Research in third and fourth categories is usually the product of individual scholarship, either dissertation research under the supervision of a faculty member or post doctoral research by a member of the faculty, staff, former graduate students, or scholars from other institutions.