How to Do an Academic Research

How to Do an Academic Research

The studying process is inevitably connected with the academic environment, so whether you want it or not, you will have to try your hand at doing research. You might have come across statements like ‘new research has proved,’ ‘study showed,’ etc., in many articles, but do you know what stands behind that? It is clear that research is crucial. Otherwise, we wouldn’t hear about it every now and then. However, to understand the concept to its full extent, we should go deep down the question. The research comes in various forms and affects numerous life aspects since it is fundamental to any improvement and development. If you have no idea how to perform research successfully to get a high grade, let’s discuss the key moments that may come in handy.

What Is a Research Project?

When it is necessary to do an experiment to get to the essence of a question or find a solution, people arrange a research project. Pay attention that the word ‘experiment’ is not only about test tubes, so don’t get confused. On the contrary, it can be about watching a group of people during a certain period, or trying new technology, or doing something in an unusual way. A research project can boost the study in any field if there is a certain problem to be solved or, for instance, a question to be responded to. You can come across academic and professional research. The former focuses on discoveries for the science community, while the latter aims to solve a specific issue for a business. Both of them encourage progress, but since students often deal with academic research, we’ll focus on it.

The Essence of an Academic Research

Academic and casual research has a wide range of differences, and young people should remember that the former can influence the audience’s opinion and change their mind about the researched topic. Objectivity plays a crucial role here, so you should follow the scientific method when doing academic research. The latter follows the same pattern during the whole researching process to come to the logical conclusion for the issue discussed. You create a hypothesis that represents a potential answer to the main question. If you don’t meet academic standards when working on research, one can hardly trust the findings since you cannot guarantee their credibility. 

What Is a Research Essay?

When it comes to college students, we should pay more attention to a research essay since it is one of the most common assignments they get. It is not just about working with numerous articles and searching for proper citations. You have to analyze a large flow of information to reinforce the statement. Moreover, you should share your thoughts on the theme and back them up with credible information. In other words, a research essay represents a paper in which you provide your interpretation or argument. Writing an essay, you share all your knowledge and ideas about the subject. When you know how to research a topic effectively, it is easy to survey the field and find the best information.

How to Do Academic Research?

Whether you want it or not, you will have to work on a research paper in college since professors like to provide their students with such an assignment. To successfully cope with this task, you should develop the right strategy and know what steps you should take to meet this challenge. There is a range of tips and tricks that may come in handy and simplify the writing process.

1. Arrange a Proper Schedule

Many young people underestimate the process of doing academic research, which is why they don’t allocate enough time to sort things out. If you want to get an A-grade paper, you should arrange a schedule indicating a series of milestones to meet the deadline and not skip anything important. For instance, you can set a task to find twelve credible sources by October 10 and finish the first draft by November 1. You should allocate enough time to work with material found, review the initial results, highlight the most crucial moments, reread them once again and decide how relevant they are for your research.

2. Define the Research Topic

If you realize that you have chosen a wide subject field, it is worth narrowing it down and making it more unique. For example, you can state your theme as a question, highlighting a small area for further research. On the other hand, if you don’t possess enough information to explore the topic fully, it is worth starting with background reading. When choosing a topic for your writing project, you should consider the following things:

  • utilize reference sources (Google Scholar, online encyclopedias, almanacs);
  • turn to other sources to gather enough background info;
  • turn your theme into the question;
  • determine the keywords or phrases in your question;
  • consult a person who specializes in the field you are interested in. 

3. Test Your Topic

When you decide on the topic, you should check it out and define whether it meets the key demands. For example, if you realize that you have overdone it with sources, you should narrow down your theme by applying the ‘and’ operator. On the other hand, it is worth trying to broaden your search area if you lack information. For instance, if you were going to write about college students, you could expand the theme by searching for students in general. 

4. Decide on Your Research Strategy

The number of steps to write an essay will depend on the type of project you work on. However, it is clear that you should collect appropriate information within the field to conduct effective research. To determine the most effective research strategy, it is worth considering the next questions:

  1. Are you short on time?
  2. What is special about your project?
  3. What type of information do you need?
  4. What type of sources will come in handy?

Talking about the latter point, you can distinguish three main types of sources. The first one is about primary sources that can be quite tricky. Its status depends on how you utilize it. Thus, if the source becomes the object of your analysis, it means it turns into a primary source. When it comes to a secondary source, it analyses or explains certain phenomena or events and is often based on a primary source. A great example of such a source is a reference book. The third type is a tertiary source, which involves dictionaries, encyclopedias, and reference materials.

5. Keep a Research Question in Mind

In general, your thesis statement should become the outcome of your research when you have already examined all the material inside and out. Nevertheless, the collision is that a thesis statement should direct your research and help answer the main question. Thus, when you run into new material, you should ask yourself whether it will be relevant and match the key question. If new pieces of information don’t contribute to answering it, you can put it aside. Don’t clog your paper with unnecessary information, even if it seems interesting. Every argument you provide should support the central idea. Most academic research papers belong to one of three types: argumentative, analytical, expository, and your thesis statement should match the category of paper you are working with. Thus, you should devote some time to writing your thesis statement, so your research will have a clear purpose.

6. Do Everything Gradually

It can be tempting to accomplish all the subjects at once to save some time. However, this strategy will hardly result in a positive outcome. Instead, it would be best to go deep down the question to understand its peculiarities and know what things to cover. It can happen that you will develop a wide range of great ideas, but you will hardly write an A-worthy paper without a proper organization of the process. Hence, it would be useful to outline the points you need to involve in your research to cope with each aspect at a time. Otherwise, your paper may lack focus and look messy. A well-crafted outline will help establish a connection between the data gathered and make your paper go smoothly.

7. Ask for Help

Books, articles, and websites are not the only available sources you can use when doing research. Don’t forget that you study in college, which represents a concentration of human resources. Many professors are waiting for a moment when students reach out for advice or help, but such a situation is quite rare. However, you can use it to your benefit and turn to your teacher when you find yourself at the dead end. Maybe you need help with assessing sources and deciding what to do with the information you have gathered. Besides, many students turn a blind eye to librarians, even though they can provide you with credible and even hard-to-find information within the field of your research.

8. Keep It Up with the Times

When you collect information for your research, it is important to pay attention to the release dates of the material. Even though some old sources can still be relevant, you should better opt for references that have been produced during the last ten years. If information found seems too old-school and you cannot find any fresher alternatives, it can mean that scientists rejected the idea or authorities cut their funding. You can resort to one trick to find out whether there is any new information within the research. Just google the key scientists whose works seem suitable for your research and look for their homepages since often they specify their recent publications and activities.

Besides, don’t be afraid to reach out to the research and ask the required questions directly. You can explain what you are dealing with and what you want to find out, and how their work can boost your investigation. Just don’t cross the line asking about a good abstract for a research paper or a suitable list of references. Nobody wants to do the whole scope of work for a student.

9. Dig into the Research Process

Every student who enrolls in college should be good at an academic research process. It involves a wide range of organizational aspects. The research will help you understand your subject, develop powerful ideas and a thesis statement, as well as speak about your theme with confidence and authority. When you have the required amount of information on hand, you should assess it and take notes. It is fundamental to keep an eye on your reference materials, so you can meet the citation requirements or succeed in writing an annotated bibliography or reference list. You can start a separate document and specify data you want to include in your paper along with citation information such as author, title, quotations, page number, and reference list. Make sure to check with your professor what citation style you should adhere to.

Key Tips on How to Do Research

The research process can become a fascinating pastime if you organize your work properly. On the other hand, it can turn into a nightmare and make you depressed. It is up to you to decide what option is preferable for you. If your main goal is to avoid additional stress, take care of the organizational moments and follow the next tips and tricks:

  • formulate a research hypothesis clearly, so you know how your research question should sound;
  • check out how to come up with an effective thesis statement;
  • define suitable information sources in various formats and types;
  • don’t underestimate the scope of the project’s tasks;
  • reconsider the research question based on the scope of information on hand and crucial moments of the research project;
  • pick up the most suitable and effective investigative techniques and research tools;
  • plan your research project in detail;
  • make notes and keep track of the required sources;
  • create a draft of your paper, evaluating sources available according to the criteria;
  • review hypothesis if required;
  • utilize gathered information effectively for a specific goal;
  • check your final draft for plagiarism, and make sure you have followed all the quotation rules according to the style chosen.