The first rule on how to do research is to find the method that is best for you. This article describes my method of doing research. The most important factor for effective research is resourcefulness; especially if you are doing research on the Internet. The more resourceful you are, the better the results of your research. Many people are not naturally good at doing research. It takes practice as well as persistence to become proficient.
The first step to becoming good at research is to become proficient at studying. For this I refer the reader to my article “Developing Good Study Habits.”
An equally important step is checking for plagiarism after your assignment or article is complete. For this I refer the reader to my article “Are Free Plagiarism Checkers Worth Using.”
In my experience, searching the Internet for material relevant to the assignment or article can be a daunting task. It takes time and imagination to come up with the proper words to search for. Experiment with the words and phrases you are using in your search. Take full advantage all the features of the search engine you are using. And don’t forget to utilize your Internet Security package to warn you if a site contains any malicious software. Also, use several search engines. Each search engine may come up with different results for your particular search. When you find a useful site, bookmark it for future reference. You could use the URL of that site as a reference at the end of your assignment or article. Browse the contents of the site for other keywords you can search for. Make your notes short. Don’t copy complete sentences or paragraphs from the site. My notes are often short phrases or a couple of separate words. Go to the references listed at the site for more information and take more notes and find more keywords to use in your next search.
Determine what method of recording the results of research is best for you. I tried having two windows up on my Windows Vista operating system. In one window, I had Word Pad open and I was typing my notes into a Word Pad document. In the other window, I had the results of my search. However, I couldn’t get comfortable with the two windows. I found myself losing my place in the results of my search. Eventually I gave up this method of taking notes and got myself a notepad and a pen. That worked much better because I could take my notes while only having one window open. I found that I couldn’t use a skinny pen because my hand would start aching after a while. So I bought a cheap fat pen.
The other difficulty I encountered was that my eyes would get tired and the text on the monitor would go completely out of focus. At that point, I would bookmark the site and then close my eyes for a few moments or look at something else.
Don’t be satisfied with getting all your information from one site. Use several sites for your information. If you find that you are only referencing one site for all your notes, then it becomes extremely important for you to compare your text with the contents of the site. Remember that paraphrasing an article is plagiarism. Attack the topic from a different angle than the site does. Also, if the site forms any kind of conclusion about the topic, make sure you form your own conclusion in your own words.
Follow the same advice given above if you go to the library and take notes from various books. Remember to note the title, author, publisher and ISBN number of the book to use as a reference. These books may provide you with more words for your Internet search or more relevant sites for you to view.
Research takes time. Don’t wait until the night before deadline to do your research. Do a little research every day. Remember that rushing may exclude checks for plagiarism. And most schools and publishing sites have zero tolerance for plagiarism. And if you are taking notes, use a notebook. I found that when I take notes on lose sheets of paper, my notes get lost. Number the pages in the notebook so that you can create a small index to use to find particular notes from a particular site.
Here is the URL of an article that will explain how to determine if a site is a legitimate academic site:
When you have completed your research, number your notes in the order in which they will appear in your article or assignment. Then you are ready to start typing your assignment or article.