Whether you plan to write a dissertation or thesis, learning the specific steps to follow is half the battle. Generally, the research process starts with a broad idea for a topic. Next, you must identify the problem you intend to analyze, refine your research question, lay out the foundation of your entire research design, and then create a proposal that outlines your idea and plan. But this just one side of the coin.
Beyond these steps, there are essential research skills that enable writers to find the correct and impactful information for their writing projects. For example, you must understand why defining the target population or refining your research questions is essential and how to it. These are the research skills you must master if you want to handle research projects successfully. Here are tips to help you improve your research skills.
Start broad, then narrow down to specifics.
The entire research process is a huge task, and it can be overwhelming for you to know where to begin. There is nothing wrong with beginning from the internet. After all, online resources like Wikipedia and Google Scholar are an excellent way to orient yourself in your preferred topic. These platforms will give you a basic overview with a somewhat brief history and key points to focus on while researching.
Learn how to identify authentic sources of information
Not every internet resource provides accurate information. So, it is important that you learn how to recognize authentic sources of information. To find reliable online resources, you must use your critical thinking and analytical skills. Ask yourself the following questions;
- Does this source of information agree with other resources of similar information?
- Is the information over an expert in the field in question?
- Do the author’s views have a conflict of interest with regard to this topic?
Keep in mind that your ability to find the right sources of information plays a key role in the success of your research project.
Verify information from different resources
It is essential to mention that the internet is a big place, and anyone can say anything they want online. Part of the information found online is published by bloggers and some authors who might not be experts in the topics they talk about. Besides, most websites don’t even evaluate their articles for factual accuracy.
For this reason, there are plenty of unreliable sources of information out there. The best way to be sure that you are getting accurate information is to ensure that whatever you find online, there are several different sources that can verify its accuracy. So, ensure that there are different sources of information that give similar facts before you use a specific online resource for your research.
Expect surprising answers
Generally, internet research is all about finding the right answers to your research question rather than a way of verifying what you think you already know. Keep in mind that looking for information is somewhat a limiting research strategy because it involves using specific information to collect, and this could prevent you from developing an accurate and in-depth understanding of your research topic.
So, ensure you keep an open mind when you conduct research so that you can gain a deeper understanding of the answers you get.
Keep your work organized.
During the data collection phase of your research process, you will be handling a huge amount of information, from PDFs and web pages to videos. It is important that you keep this information organized to avoid losing key facts or being unable to cite information correctly. If you are using the internet to research, be sure to bookmark essential web pages on your internet browser, use index cards whenever necessary, and other ways of keeping your sources of information organized.
Don’t ignore library resources.
In case you still have unanswered questions, don’t worry. There are many places you can find help, even if you are not a student doing course-related or academic research. Indeed, most university and high school libraries provide resources for student’s research, faculty members’ research, and for the entire society. So, if you feel you still need more information after scouring the internet for answers, you may want to visit a nearby library.
There are important rules and skills that apply to nearly every research project. Your ability to source accurate and impactful is crucial to the success of your research project. Implement the tips discussed above to improve your research skills.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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