Research is an essential part of higher education. Students today are expected to conduct research projects and present them as a part of their course, which means they need to continually develop and hone their research skills.
To fully equip students for academic success, instructors should provide training in research methods and techniques.
In addition, students should be encouraged to engage in independent learning and self-directed study.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your academic research:
What Is Academic Research?
The purpose of academic research is to conduct experiments and collect data to test a hypothesis.
Students use scientific methods to collect data from real-world situations, which they then analyse to determine whether their hypothesis was correct, with the goal of helping us better understand the world around us.
6 Tips to Help Students Research Effectively
1. Start With a Plan
One of the most important things you can do to improve your research technique is to have a clear plan.
Writing this will help you organise your thoughts and identify what you need to do to complete your research project. Breaking it down into stages will also make it feel less overwhelming.
Start by writing down what you want to achieve from your research. It will help you determine the resources you need and the steps you should take to reach your objectives.
Once you have a plan, dedicate time each day to completing individual tasks related to your research project. This will help you maintain momentum and feel less overwhelmed.
2. Set Goals and Deadlines
One of the most important things you can do to improve your academic research is set goals and deadlines.
This will help you to stay focused and achieve your objective.
Your plan will help you to figure out which areas of your project are the most important and which steps you need to take to complete it.
3. Use Online Resources to Improve Your Research Skills
One way to enhance your research skills is to refine how you search for literature to ensure you find the most relevant and reliable information.
There’s a range of discovery services with advanced search functionality today.
Your library will give you access to many of these services and your librarian is also a great resource to help you perfect your literature search.
Another great way to improve your research skills is to attend a course or seminar on the subject.
Many university libraries offer tutorials that teach students how to effectively search for and analyse sources, write impactful papers, and present findings.
4. Stay Focused and Maintain a Positive Attitude
It can be challenging to stay focused and maintain a positive attitude towards academic research, especially if you are reading long, complex articles about a new subject.
However, this is key to success.
One way to maintain focus while researching is to concentrate only on the single task or question at hand eg. identifying and comparing the main findings from a collection of articles.
This is where your plan will pay dividends. Avoid distractions and try not to fixate on the outcome of the research project.
Additionally, take time for relaxation and reflection. It will help you stay motivated and encourage fresh ideas or a different take on a subject. Finally, take some time each day to reflect on your progress.
5. Try New Technology
There are a few new tools available now that can break your articles and chapters down into easy-to-read sections that highlight important facts and findings.
Scholarcy is just one of these and can help you to get to grips with the main concepts and themes in a research paper or book chapter before reading it in full.
Scholarcy is also useful if you need to screen a lot of articles and want to save summaries of the most useful ones to quickly refresh your memory later.
It also has a range of export features and integrations that make it easy to compare the results and findings of a collection of articles on a particular subject.
6. Find Mentors
One of the best ways to improve your academic research skills is to find a mentor. They can help you learn how to conduct effective research and provide valuable feedback on your work.
There are several ways to find a mentor. You can search online for mentors associated with your field of study or ask your department or faculty members if they can recommend someone.
Many universities will also have programs that connect students with professionals in their field, and peer mentoring programmes are available at lots of academic institutions today.
It’s important to celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes when it comes to your academic research.
Try not to give up if you failed to meet a deadline or couldn’t find enough information about your topic. Instead, try to look at each setback as a chance to learn something new.
How Can I Be a Great Academic Researcher?
There are a few things you can do to improve your academic research.
First, be very clear about what you want to achieve and remember the bigger picture and how your research is contributing to this.
Secondly, be organised and efficient when working on your research project. Keep all your materials handy and organised so you can easily access them. It will help you to stay focused and avoid any unnecessary distractions.
Finally, be patient and persistent when working on your research project. Stick with it until you have reached your goal.
Although it may take some time, eventually, success will be yours!