Every time your lecturer assigns you an essay, he or she expects that you will conduct thorough research. It is the very first step that you expect to take even before outlining what you will discuss in the essay- you usually head to Google or your school library to search for all the necessary information. If you need to know how to become a pro at finding information for your papers, then this article is for you.
Every student who goes through the school system is expected to be an excellent researcher and analyst, in the way he or she can sort, organize, and even analyze the data they collect. Your professor usually hopes that beyond doing all the research, that you understand the content that you research. That is exactly what being an excellent student entails.
Most of the academic writing work you will do in your life as a student will involve you conducting research. It could be through the collection of primary data, such as through surveying or observing. But it also implies that you should be skilled in the collection of secondary data, by looking for it in other sources and archives. This is quite easy nowadays because of the availability of the internet. This does not make things any easier since research requires that you define the exact information you are using in your essay and that you use a credible source. As much as the internet is a good place to source information, it is also full of misleading information.
How then, can you go about finding just the right sources of information for any type of research?
Before you even search for the information you need for your assignment, here are some questions that you should answer first:
- What is the purpose of the essay?
- What question are you answering with your essay/ report?
- Do you have a clear understanding of that question?
- Are there any requirements regarding the type of sources you should use?
- Does the assignment require you to offer your own opinion, or should you analyze various works?
- What do you already know about the assignment, and which blank spaces are you going to be filling in by conducting the research?
Answering these questions will give you a better understanding of which direction your research should take.
Collecting the background information
When you start diving deeper into your topic, search for the basic information first. Aim to understand what the topic at hand is about, which existing relevant works there are about it, as well as the related fields of study there might be.
You can start by learning the general terminology and facts, by using the following encyclopedia websites:
- The World Factbook
- Encyclopedia Britannica
- Wikipedia – N.B. You should only use this site to gather background knowledge. It should never be cited or used as the main source.
You should doublecheck the information you find on Wikipedia since the content on this site is usually added by people who are not necessarily very competent on the topic.
Work through the material
There are very many sources of information that you can rely on for offline and online academic work. Some students prefer visiting the library to search through the available materials. Finding books in the library calls for you to know how to navigate the library database. You can make things easy for yourself by asking the librarian for help.
You should always be organized and focused when you are researching your paper. It is necessary to have a system to organize the research notes since this will help you easily navigate through the facts, and enable you to put the essay together.
You can, for instance, use the following method:
- Place the bibliographic reference at the top of the page.
- Write, on a sheet of paper or blank document, the quotes you have chosen, as well as the page numbers from which they have been extracted.
- Write down the key points and phrases that are essential for completing your essay.
Choose Reliable Online Sources
Most students usually have problems determining the reliability of the sources as they are searching for information to use in their essays. It might not seem like a valid concern, but the truth is that a majority of the material presented on the internet is not credible, and does not meet the academic writing criteria for the type of sources that should be used. Some articles are usually written by amateurs, while others contain outdated information.
Some of the most reliable information databases that you can use include:
- Academic Search
- Oxford Academic
- Microsoft Academic
- Google Scholar
- SAGE Publishing
- Science Direct
- American Mathematical Society
- Public Library of Science
- Cornell University Library
Use Search Commands on Google
Google has commands that you can rely on to make your search more specific so that you can get a more refined collection of the search results. The commands can save you a lot of time and make you an expert at finding information for your papers. Some of the main search commands that you will find useful for your academic search online include:
That is pretty much all you need to know if you are looking for tips on how to become a pro at finding information for your papers. If you are having trouble with any assignment, then you can reach out to Custom Essay Writing, for premium quality work delivered at a fair price.