Many students seek to improve how they write their research papers. A student can employ a combination of skills to complete any form of research with the most common being data collection, analysis, and interpretation skills. It is crucial that students learning how to write research papers acquire basic to advanced research skills. These skills are rare, and schools do not readily teach because instructors assume that students can figure out how to do good research.
Some professors even ask their students to visit the librarians and inquire from them on the best research techniques. It is the reason many students procrastinate their duties or turn to crowd-sourcing sites such as Wikipedia as their first stop when they want to research. This article specifically shows students how to get up to speed with the basic skills in research. Here are the ten tips to help you search, find, arrange, organize, and use the information you require completing a decent research paper.
1. Set a Program
The first tip in writing a research paper is to set a schedule for the paper. A student needs a program with well-organized milestones to reach the goal of the project. The program helps to complete the objectives of the research within a certain time. For instance, you can state, find 15 sources by October 20, and finish preliminary research by November 17. A student requires time to understand the overview of the relevant materials available for the research.
2. Use Wikipedia for Subject Overview Only
Wikipedia is a good site to get a good overview of the subject of research. However, spend more time searching and browsing other links since most institutions do not accept the use of Wikipedia as a source. You should avoid citing it as one of the sources in your research paper. Wikipedia is far much better in providing an overview of subjects because it is hyperlinked. It should prepare you for the research. By the time you begin writing your research, you should have sources other than Wikipedia.
3. Skim Through Your Bibliography
After finding reliable academic books and journals sources to inform the research, you will have to seek more sources to support the research. Note down the titles that seem relevant from your bibliography. Academic authors do not have creative titles; it is easy to tell their work from the titles and subtitles. Check again if you recognize the names of the authors.
Once you identify the titles and subtitles of the book references, you can go through other sources and do the same. This will help you to know the sources that you need and those you do not. This will help you to save time from looking through books to find information that does not exist.
4. Have Working Thesis
Technically, any person reading your research should pick out its thesis. Having a working thesis means having a question the research intends to answer before it begins. Research is supposed to provide an answer or solution to a problem statement. You should avoid anything that is relevant to the topic but does not answer the question of the research.
Gathering much material will tempt you to discuss matters related to the research and may lead to irrelevant information. You need one or two good sources to provide the background information. Wikipedia is a good background source in most cases. It helps you to focus on the topic of the research.
5. Break It Down
It is unwise to tackle the subject all at once. Every research is as good as its outline. The outline helps you to break down the research into parts. The outline should have subsections where you can cite the references in the bibliography. Breaking down the subject of the research also helps to allocate sources to the right subheadings. It also helps to review the sources since a new subheading may require additional research.
The different portions deal with different aspects of the research. After creating an outline, you should be able to produce a draft and see the connection between different topics of the research. Tackling the subject at once without an outline shortens the research that may lack essential information.
After breaking subject of the research into different parts, you should deal with one piece at a time and determine how best it connects to the previous and next section.
6. Be Systematic
Every research should start with an idea that shows how the collection and organization of the research take place. Although researchers commonly use index cards, I prefer a one-subject notebook. All the full bibliographic references should at the top of a fresh page. Copy and write the quotes that you use in the research.
Ensure that the quotes relate to their sources. Computers systems help with correct referencing. Some websites also have systems that help a researcher to copy the whole citation in MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, or any other format. In-text citations should also follow the right format to avoid confusion. The research should be in a systematic manner.
7. Know Your Sources
Spending time to appreciate sources in your library improves your research skills. Take advantage of libraries that offer tours to students or talk to them. You can schedule to visit the library and walk through it to know where the sources you need are. The more often you do this, the more you get to know the library. This practice can help in future research when done continually. While visiting the library, pay attention to periodicals and microfilm depository, which are necessary for most research projects. These sources are accessible online.
You can as well know what you need at home and how you can access other sources from home. For instance, J-STOR is a source that you can access from home using your computer or internet-enabled handset. The website has scholarly articles that are easily searchable and accessible.
Human sources are important in the completion of research. Professors spend time in their offices waiting for students to ask them questions concerning their research subjects.
Research departments in different institutions have members who have served on dissertation committees. They can take you through the process of the research because of their experience and expertise. Most students overlook the librarian, yet their work is to serve students with research needs. Most librarians find pleasure in helping students because they are trained to do it.
Finally, remember your fellow student can also help you with your research. They may have come across what you need to complete your research.
9. Carry a Notebook
The moment you start working on a research project, should have a notebook where you write ideas. The mind stores what we read even when we are not consciously thinking about it. If you write notes every time you read, you will be struck by the ideas the notes would create at the convenient time of the research. Keeping a notebook and a pen can help you note down ideas you come across in the library, in class or at group discussions.
Your research does not depend entirely on the sources you provide. You need ideas to interpret the information available from the sources to make your readers understand the research subject.
10. Create Current Research
This is the final tip to improving your research skills. Avoid using old sources that may not be relevant to the current theory. Some of the old experimental research and observational research have been criticized and rendered irrelevant by the current practices.
Most institutions require sources that are not more than ten years old since publication. For instance, research done today should have sources between 2006 and 2016. However, old research is also important, but their findings have to be supported by modern research. It is also important to explain the reason for using the source rather than using it in a sentence and quoting it.
The above tips will help you put a decent research together. You need the tips in your mind before writing your paper. The librarian and your professor can help you to approach any other challenge that may arise during research. The tips are also important if you restrict your research to books and journals in the library. Internet sources are tricky, and you can stick to Wikipedia for background information. However, only cite journals and books from authenticated sources.