One of the most important skills which students in UK universities need to have is related to academic research. Conducting academic research is an essential part of your studies, and a very significant stage in the preparation of your written assignments, reports, essays, and your dissertation. Many students have excellent understanding of their subject fields, but when it comes to academic research, they find it challenging to deal with the large amounts of information available in their university libraries, and on the internet. This brief article will provide several useful tips on how to improve your academic research skills, and how to conduct research quickly and efficiently.
Define your research question
The first and most important condition for conducting research efficiently is of course to determine your research question. Both essay writing service websites, and dissertation writing service providers are adamant that the research question is going to have huge impact on how you conduct your research. This is why you need to make sure that your research question is properly defined, and that there is availability of literature on the subject. Never choose a question which is too narrow, or too broad to tackle. If you choose a question which is too narrow, you might be facing the problem of scarcity of information, which can jeopardise your assignment. If you choose something way too broad, you are most likely to produce a paper with no focus, and the research process will be lengthy and tiring, because of the wide availability of literature.
After you have determined your research question, you can do some brainstorming in order to identify some key search items to guide you throughout your research. Make sure these search items are closely associated with your research topic, or with its most important aspects.
Another thing you have to bear in mind at this stage is the difference between primary and secondary research. While primary research is data which you collect and which has not been published before, secondary research is related to the search of already published books, articles, news, documents, etc.
Learn how to apply research techniques
Academic research can be far less daunting if you know how to apply the different research techniques most university programmes teach in the beginning of the academic year. Learn how to make the most of your library database in the university you are attending, and how to use the different journal databases such as EBSCO and JSTOR. These can be very useful sources of information and most universities offer unlimited accesses to specialised journals and publications.
Also, learn how to conduct quick and efficient library search. Most universities offer library induction courses, which are useful in teaching you how to locate and search titles/authors in the online library catalogue.
Regardless of whether you search for books or articles, make sure that you choose relevant sources. This would mean that you do not get carried away with every piece of information, which is remotely related to your topic. Try to locate sources which are straight to the point, and which offer useful insights into the subject you are investigating.
Keep track of your sources
In the process of research, many students lose track of the sources they have found. With the abundance of information, sometimes important sources can be lost or forgotten, and left out. Make sure you keep track of your sources, and take diligent notes on the content and main ideas which you think might be relevant to the presentation of your arguments. Although at the end some of the sources might be replaced by others, it is a good idea to have a notion of what you have found so far.
Assess and classify your sources
The most difficult part of conducting academic research is the assessment and classification of your sources. First of all, not all sources of information are considered to have academic value. For example, websites such as Wikipedia or Sparknotes, or personal websites and some blog posts are to be avoided, as they do not offer information which can be used for other than general reference purposes. When you select your resources, always think about bias. Every piece of work is biased, and subjectivity is always an issue when it comes to academic writing. Yet, always check the background of the authors, and their relation to the subject in discussion, and always be critical of the information you come across. Try to assess it from a scholarly perspective, and to be able to see its strengths, as well as weaknesses.
Classification is also importation when it comes to academic research. Make sure you create a system in which to classify your sources. You might even want to create that system in the very beginning, so that you can use it as a guide throughout your research. You might want to classify your sources chronologically, or based on the similarity of views they support. You might also want to group them based on certain themes which they have in common, or even around similar formats and research methods implemented.
- License: Creative Commons- Attribution by Dawn Endico - image source
Article by Simon Rogers
For more tips on academic research, and how to receive quality essay writing service, visit www.essayorders.co.uk. There you will also find free essay samples, and access to expert proofreading service and paper writing service.