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Some simple steps to conducting academic research

  • For many students, writing a research paper can be an intimidating task. Therefore, finding out an effective strategy to develop comprehensive research skills becomes imperative. A list of some strategies has been listed down below to help you start off. You can tweak the steps according to your requirements. However, the gist of it will remain the same.

    1. Identifying the topic

    Selecting a topic is one of the crucial aspects of research tasks. Therefore it’s vital that it’s done appropriately. You should choose a topic that is within the parameters of the assignment given to you or in most cases an area you’re personally interested in as carrying out research requires a lot of reading and sustained interest. Also, your topic should have a manageable resource of information available. Carrying an initial basic search will help you analyse if the scope of your topic is too broad or narrow.

    2. Carry out a preliminary search

    After choosing your topic, do an initial search to determine the context of your paper. You should look for keywords in different sources: journals, books, encyclopedia search engines and other academic periodicals. It might be possible that you’ll need to shift the focus of your research based on the resources available to you.

    3. Locate materials

    If you are searching for books, you should look into Aleph catalogue. Also, you should note down the citation reference for future use. There is software online to help you organise your citation. If you can’t find much information on a topic, it’s preferable that you do a keyword search instead. You can also look into periodical databases of universities and reputable publishers as they include valuable resources as well.

    4. Evaluating your resources

    It’s an important step that is sometimes neglected by many students while writing their research paper. It’s imperative that you see the quality and authenticity of the information available to you. Your research supervisors will be expecting reliable and truthful information from you. In fact, the quality of your research depends to a greater extent on the authority of your sources.

    In research domain, journal articles are usually considered authoritative, then books, dissertations and other academic publications.

    5. Make notes

    After consulting your resources, you should make notes of any information that you deem would be useful in writing your paper. It’s essential that you document each note properly, so it helps you with your references later on. Even if you don’t use a particular resource for your final draft of your research paper, still it’s important to note down all information for bibliography.

    6. Writing your research paper

    Now it’s time that you finally put down your thoughts and findings on a paper. You should write a rough draft first with all your ideas. Don’t worry if they are haphazard. You can later organize your ideas and let your final research paper get the desired shape. You can later revise the draft multiple times until you feel it’s good to go. The best way to refine your writing, besides the usual consultation with your supervisor, is to share with your research mates or any senior students. Get as much feedback as you can.

    7. Citing and proofreading

    It’s important that you cite your resources properly as giving credit where due is crucial. Your research paper will get more authenticity as people who might want to duplicate your work can use those citations. There are many types of citation and referencing, such APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc. Different institutions and specialisations require different formats of citation, so consult your supervisor. Lastly, you’ll have to revise and proofread your work diligently and look for any anomalies regarding the thematic organisation, style and mechanical accuracy.

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