Practical Tips When Doing Research
How much research you need to do will differ from assignment to assignment. There is no single way to conduct research, but the following tips will assist you in improving the effectiveness of your research.
Think about what it is you need to research
It’s nice to have a specific question in mind when you’re doing research. This will help to inform you on what you’re looking for. Look at the question about your assignment and analyse it, to make sure you know what it means and what you expect. Ask yourself:
- What’s the issue?
- What’s it all about?
- What should I do?
Steps to write an assignment – Analyse the question
Consider if you need to discover information that is a reality, opinion, private reflections, news or other reports, analyses, or something else. Check the amount of information you need to discover. This may rely on the following:
- What you need to do.
- The expectations of the lecturer/tutor.
- The length of the task and the value or proportion of the total mark of the assignment.
Think about what you already may know
Brainstorm what you already know when you begin looking for information:
- What precisely is this topic about?
- What am I already familiar with?
- What should I find out?
- How do I think/feel about the topic?
- Which approach will I take?
Tip: Use a mind map to brainstorm the subject and identify what you know and need to know.
Find and evaluate information
Along with considering the information found in your study material, you can also try:
- Recommended readings or set texts (if your course has any) as well as find and evaluate information in your learning materials.
- To visit your public library locally.
- Speaking with specialists.
- Sources available online.
Tip: Wikipedia can be a useful starting point for your investigation. While the best source of information is not always considered, good pages have references that can lead to more information.
What to do with the information you find
Start by skim reading what you found to evaluate it and make sure it’s what you really need. Once you’re sure it’s relevant, it’s time to read more thoroughly. Keep a list of all you read, including information about what you choose not to use. Make notes for:
- Title, author, date, and source.
- Wherever you have found a source to retrieve the information if you need it.
- Your opinion and whether the data was helpful or not.
This way you will remember what you tried and will not waste time returning to information that was not helpful. Tip: Make sure you have enough content to compile a bibliography or list of references, including the author, title, edition, publisher, date, ISBN, website.