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Tips: Improving Research Skills

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Tips: Improving Research Skills

Jeslyn Chou, Staff Writer

Research is an inseparable part of education. Writing an informative essay is impossible without exploring and analyzing the topic you choose carefully. In this article, I’ll list tips that’ll help make your research process thorough and easier.

First of all, you’ll need to figure out what you will be writing about. Although it can be tough, try to come up with an idea that’s outside of your comfort zone. By writing and researching something new, new habits and tools will appear that can help you become a better writer.

After you find your topic, you’ll need to investigate and record information about the subject. To familiarize yourself with the material, you’ll need to utilize as many resources as you can. Along with websites, the Internet has millions of videos, pictures, and primary sources that can help you understand the information better. Of course, the Internet is always a handy tool, but make sure to check whether the website is reliable or not before using it as a research source.  It’s also beneficial to read any related magazines or books that may contain essential information that can be added to your notes. Freshman Michelle Chen also suggests working with a partner or a group if possible. With more people helping your research, it can be easier to catch all the details needed to complete your project or essay. If all else fails, try to find an expert on the topic and discuss any questions you have with them.

Now that you’ve gotten the general outline of research, here are some tips that should make the process much easier for you!

Wikipedia

Wikipedia can be a good starting place to find the general points of your topic. The site provides broad articles about a variety of subjects and topics, which you can use to gain some general knowledge about something. Although it may seem like a credible source, Wikipedia often causes a debate among scholars as anyone online can edit a Wikipedia article. Because the articles are collaborative and can be easily changed by anyone with access to the website, make sure to use it as a starting point for your research, as opposed to using it as a fact-checking resource.

Evaluate and Verify Your Info

Not all websites are trustworthy and written purely for research purposes. Before you include details in your writing, make sure it’s 100% accurate. To be safe, you should find at least three websites or any other resource that reports the same information. After all the research she’s conducted, Michelle says that finding a book is usually the most credible source. She replied that, “Although it’s not the most convenient, [books] are the most useful source because all the information is in one area.”

Organization

Lastly, the easiest way to lose track of your work is by poor organization. At the beginning of your research, you should be casting a wide net to find all the information you can. After you feel like you’ve gotten a substantial amount of notes, it’s time to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to input into your writing. The best way to do this is to sort your findings into similar categories. Freshman Jessilin Lee agrees with this tip, as she says she utilizes the “chart” or “table” function in Google Drive to divide the notes she’s taken. For example, you could sort data from a person’s life into different sections such their childhood, their achievements, and the challenges they may have faced. It’s also important to copy down links of websites or titles of books (along with their authors) you may have used to compile your notes. They will come into use later when you form your bibliography.

Hopefully, these tips will aid you in whatever research you need to conduct for your school work. Although it can be difficult to find all the facts you need for your writing, the whole process can be made easy if you follow these simple steps and guidelines!

Graphic courtesy of EVENTBRITE.IE

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Tips: Improving Research Skills