Research is the Bane of a Students Life: These Tips Will Transform the Way You Research Your Thesis

As any student, past or present, will attest the guide to effective research is having the right database and tools at your disposal. Anyone can write a kick ass essay, but if it is not founded in truth and backed up with research, then you may as well never have bothered writing it. Research can be a tremendous pain and is often the bane of a student’s life. That said, the life of education was never meant to be easy. In order to achieve and attain those many coveted top grades, embarking on a path of good research will stand you in excellent stead in order to achieve those A-grades.

With this mind, any students looking for effective research tips need not look any further. As a base point, this article will help you utilise effective research tools and help you achieve that much sought after passing grade.

Create a Schedule:

If you do not have a schedule, then create on. Take a look at your papers due date and deadlines for any drafts as imposed by your lecturer. They love to do that. Write a schedule of milestones that you aim to achieve within your allotted time. This could be reading four books in a week, highlighting key points in journal articles. Keep it realistic so you achieve your own goals. You will need to find what material is available to you and what is relevant to your research topic. Read, take notes and start shaping the foundations of your essay. Planning is critical with any research. You need to ensure that you stick to your self-imposed deadlines.

Be Mindful of Wikipedia:

In my opinion, Wikipedia should be avoided like the plague. However, if you need a base point in order to start your research then Wiki is a great place to start. Do be careful of the heavy bias that Wikipedia is known for. Do not take everything literally from Wikipedia entries and judge it with your oh-so-critical eye. It is a great starting point and is fantastic for helping you get a basic overview. Basic being the operative word here.

Utilise the Bibliography:

Once you have found some solid academic work in order to start your essay, take a look at the bibliography section. Mine the information from there as if you were digging for gold. The bibliography section of any research paper is a great starting point for finding other research that is related to your own hypothesis or question paper. Utilise it and use it to your advantage. Of course, not everything within the bibliography will be relevant to your paper, but it is a great tool to use when researching.

Use Databases:

Your academic institution will have a plethora of databases available for your to utilise. Take advantage of them! For law students, the Lexis Nexis Casebase guide is a great place to start. If you are unsure of what databases are on offer via your institution, ask your lecturer or mentor who will provide knowledge on what is available. Utilising databases is a great way of gathering large amounts of relevant material. Simply enter your keyword search and away you go. Similarly, if you are looking for a particular paper or journal; enter as much information as you have regarding its subject matter and the likelihood is you will find it.

Have a Research Topic in Mind:

Yes, this seems commonsensical, but technically your thesis should emerge from your research, not the other way around. Of course, you need a start point and a working hypothesis, but you should not have a clear hypothesis in mind until you have your research and you have gleaned the relevant information from it. How do you know whether your hypothesis is true or not until you have read all the relevant information? You do not. This is why research is imperative for students and the multitude of essays that they have to write. Anyone can write an article, but writing one with good, empirical research is the key to success within your university career.

Break Your Research Down into Manageable Chunks:

For your own sanity, I would never recommend tackling your entire subject matter in one foul swoop. Break the subject matter down into digestible chunks. That way, you won’t feel like you are losing the plot. Once you have mastered the basics of your chosen subject, break it down into key themes and organise accordingly. Work your themes into your schedule, perhaps focussing on one sub-topic at a time. The connections will become glaringly obvious once you have pieced together your research.

Resources, Galore:

As you well know, there are a multitude of resources available at your disposal. Utilise them effectively. The library may well become your new home. If you do not know what your university library has to offer, request a tour. This is perfectly acceptable. You are paying for this privilege after all. There are often specialist research librarians within all institutions, so request their help.

The Importance of Dates:

One thing that students seem to think is acceptable is out of date material. “Look! Such and Such et al. wrote this in 1984, how relevant!.” I do not want to burst your bubble, but the research is likely to be dated. Ideally, keep your research material within the last decade to ensure it is relevant. Relevance is the key in research. If you do not find relevant material on your subject matter, it may mean that research has moved on. This could indicate that there is nothing left to say on that topic in particular. Unless you are doing a history degree, I’d strongly advise that you keep your research fresh and innovative, unless you want to regurgitate other people’s ideas.

The Rest is Down to You:

While these tips will help you in the main, they cannot write the paper for you. Sorry. Once you have put in the groundwork for your research, the rest will naturally flow. Take on board these tips and hints to ensure that you have thorough and diverse, as well as well thought out research. I am certain you will achieve perfect grades.
Image courtesy of Clay Shonkwiler

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